Students, business mentors and health professionals have worked together at Teesside University to look at ways to improve the patient experience. The Health Hack was organised in partnership with UniHack, a team of hackathon and student development experts, along with South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
Traditionally a tech-heavy format, the scope of the hackathon was broadened to create a cross-disciplinary approach to the challenge. Bringing in ideas from students who were not necessarily immersed within the NHS offered a fresh perspective for the healthcare professionals.
Deborah Jenkins MBE, Chair of the South Tees Trust said “Our Trust is hugely complicated and hugely exciting. I am delighted to see so many students and people we wouldn’t normally work with, who I am absolutely sure will come up with things none of us have ever thought of.”
The hackathon involved students of philosophy, environment management, and dance, interpreting the challenge through different eyes, leading to radically new ideas and approaches.
Combining the entrepreneurial minds of business students, the artistic skills of graphic students, and IT & gaming students’ ability to build and code, put a huge number of potential solutions on the table.
The event consisted of 40 students quickly meeting, breaking down the problem, and looking at creative solutions to them. The students then split up into nine teams which worked on ideas to present back to the NHS.
With 30 hours to ‘hack’ the problem, the ideas evolved and pivoted, while some teams collapsed and others merged. The hackathon was completed with seven incredibly well thought-out solutions which were presented back to the NHS and business judges.
The judges declared two winning teams, both looking at patient experience through entirely different lenses.
Green Fox Innovation explored how gamification could encourage patients to submit themselves and loved ones for vital research programmes. After many iterations and clever ideas, they created a mobile game that allowed players to build their own hospitals utilising a quirky mix of gameplay elements familiar to Sim City or Cookie Cutter fans.
By contrast, Health+ looked to bring prescriptions into the 21st Century. Using an app, patients can track medication that they are taking, and quickly and easily find out key information such as dosages, potential side-effects, and how one drug interacts with another, all through a user friendly interface.
Steve Dougan, Head of Graduate Enterprise at Teesside University, who also runs Teesside Launchpad, was delighted with the event. He said: “A hackathon is a truly unique experience for our students’ development, enabling them to experience what it takes to go from a problem and creating a range of possible ideas, through to actually developing a well thought out, cost effective, solution in an incredibly short amount of time.”
Jed Parry, of Green Fox Innovation said: “The event was a lot of fun. Tiring, but fun. While you have to work hard, it’s worth it if you want to do well. I’d really recommend it to other students.”
The two winning teams have now been placed into Teesside Launchpad’s Fuel programme, giving them access to a high-tech co-working environment, mentoring from the local community, and even access to future funding. It is hoped that by having worked so closely with the NHS, those Teesside students who wish to launch their own business will have the perfect platform with which to do so.