Kainos drives healthcare software innovation with Health Hack NI

26 November 2012

A pioneering ‘Health Hack’ being organised by IT company Kainos in Belfast next month (8–9 Dec) will bring together medical clinicians and the latest technology and design talent to brainstorm and develop the next generation of healthcare software applications — all to be releases as open source.

With weeks still to go, all places at Health Hack NI have already been filled. The social entrepreneurship-led event being hosted by Belfast City Council is just the latest in a series of initiatives supported by Kainos to harness and foster new IT talent and cutting-edge development techniques for the benefit of society.

The health ‘hackathon’ is targeted directly at the health sector, where Kainos is already helping to transform hospital technology at a rapid pace with its flagship Evolve electronic document management and workflow solution. This has been developed hand-in-hand with practising clinicians.

Creating open-source apps

In the spirit of social entrepreneurship, all code developed at Health Hack NI event will be made available on an open source basis so that clinicians and technologists are free to take it further, using the code as the foundation for new applications capable of transforming UK patient care.

Health Hack NI, the latest in a series of innovation-led collaboration forums across the UK, will take place over the weekend of December 8-9 at Belfast City Hall.

On day one, practising clinicians will present their ideas and outline challenges they face in their jobs every day before teaming up with skilled technology enthusiasts. Together they will design and create real-world apps in an intensive 26-hour development ‘marathon’ across the weekend. The final products or ‘proofs-of-concept’ will be presented to an influential panel of judges on the Sunday afternoon.

The current event has been organised by a consortium of parties at the cutting edge of technology in healthcare. Kainos, which has a strong track record for innovation and fostering new talent through extraordinary competitions such as its student ‘AppCamp’, is supporting the latest forum alongside Belfast City Council, the Northern Ireland Connected Health Innovation Centre (CHIC) and technology company EMC.

Tom Gray, CTO at Kainos, said, “Instead of simply talking about the challenges, the goal is to do something about them while all of the stakeholders and resources are in one place. This is a rare opportunity for enthusiastic and motivated healthcare and technology professionals to work together in an informal and non-commercial environment to improve local healthcare and related services.”

The event format is based on the concept of a ‘hackathon’, proven to be a highly productive way of quickly taking ideas to working software prototype. “By emphasising hands-on work on small projects that can be tackled in a short period of time, assumptions can be quickly tested, teams can be built, and momentum can be generated for promising ideas in healthcare,” Tom explains.

On the preference for open source platforms as the basis for development, he adds, “Our emphasis on openness is in recognition of the fact that this is increasingly becoming the standard in the technology industry, and across parts of government. Equally importantly, openness in technology fits with the collaboration and transparency found in medical and academic culture.”


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