Hacking the National Health Service

In the age of easy to use consumer software – from Facebook to the iPhone – health workers find the software they get at work increasingly frustrating.

Talk to some! You’ll find stories of doctors crossing hospitals to reboot computers to get a vital piece of data. Stories of individuals keeping patient records on Excel where they can’t be handed over easily to the next shift.

If it’s vitally important that playing Farmville is easy and usable, how much more important is it that the software that keeps us healthy (and alive!) is easy and usable?

This weekend was the second NHS Hackday which is organised by Open Health Care UK, this time in Liverpool. Much as ScraperWiki often gets hacks and hackers together to learn from each other, NHS Hackday brings doctors (and other clinical practitioners) and geeks together.

There were 15 astonishing entries at the end of the weekend. I’m going to tell you about the two that won ScraperWiki prizes for supreme, awesome scraping.

Second ScraperWiki prize for scraping was Conflict of Interest. It ambitiously scrapes academic papers on PubMed, and parses them to find those with a registered conflict of interest with particular drugs companies. It’ll be interesting to see it properly launch – meanwhile take a look at the code and help them out.

First ScraperWiki prize for scraping went to ePortfolio hack. Medical trainees in the UK keep track of what they’ve learnt using the NHS ePortfolio. Unfortunately, it’s a closed system without an API – so very hard for junior doctors to log in and add comments while on the move. They want good mobile interfaces, and also they want to extract their data so they can do more with it.

ePortfolio hack is the first stage of liberating this data. It’s a scraper where you need a doctor’s user name and password. It logs into the ePortfolio website for you, gathers up the data and produces it in a structured form. Hope the team carries on and makes a full read/write API and iPad app!

Finally, an honourary mention goes to Clinical Optics Calulator, for best use of ScraperWiki. It’s an excellent but simple, visual interactive calculator for opticians.

Let’s hope this passion for usability, and open data, spreads out into health services across the world!

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4 Responses to Hacking the National Health Service

  1. Pingback: NHS Hackday and the ePortfolio Data Liberation Front | The NHS ePortfolio Revolution starts here

  2. I would like to point out the entries spreadsheet is a little wrong: eMyergency Log also had myself as a team member and correction to the web address, its dlym.net not dimy.net. Not sure where this data was sourced from? Possibly needs correcting upstream?

    Thanks 🙂

  3. Ross says:

    Andrew, I’ve fixed the original project list to put the right details in.

  4. Pingback: ARNLWEB » Hacking the National Health Service | ScraperWiki Data Blog | ARNLWEB

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