I am so glad I joined the CTC9 project as a volunteer. Blogging about this project was a tremendous experience. There are two aspects of this weekend that amazed me beyond the teams’ achievements.
The idea funnel
It was fascinating to witness the journey we all ventured on – from random ideas on post-its to distilling them down into structured approaches.
The teams seemed to develop naturally based on people’s interests. It is remarkable how smoothly people from different sectors and backgrounds worked together in a very productive way. The Code the City staff did a great job in keeping us all on track.
Here’s a quick update before the big show-and-tell later on.
Team: ALISS API
The team has developed a draft version of the website tucked away on a test server. They have established the first functional search using the category ‘social isolation’. It returns a list of service providers in the area that is drawn from the three source databases. This is a big step forward, as we now know how to program a search and are able to deliver visible results on a user interface.
The team is also working on searches based on location by postcode or radius.
One expected challenge is the extraction of information from differently formatted data sources. For example, one source database does not provide contact details in dedicated address fields but in a more general description box.
Team: Soul Cats
This group went back to focusing on the public end users. They came up with various names for this new website that make it easy to find. They played with words from Scots dialect and proper King’s English. All suggestions were googled to see whether they exist already or are buried in amongst a ton of other results. Ideally, we want something unique!
The team suggested to submit a selection of words to a public forum in order to collect opinions or votes.
Team: The Professionals
The Professionals are a spin-off group from the Soul Cats. It’s a rollercoaster with those Cats! They went back to focusing on the value this website for health care professionals. In a structured approach they answered 4 key questions:
Who are key stakeholders?
What are key relationships?
What are key challenges?
What are the gains right now if this project went live?
What a beautiful sunny morning for making my way over to CTC9 HQ. It’s a slow start today. Hey, it’s Sunday…
Since we didn’t have a close-out meeting last night, we caught up with everybody’s progress in a kick-off meeting this morning. Make sure to read the update from yesterday afternoon beforehand.
Team: ALISS API
The data is flowing! We now have access to all 3 data sources: ALISS, GCD and MILO. MILO too? Yes! As it turns computing student Mikko has been working on hooking up MILO to the project as part of Team ALISS API.
Linking up GCD encountered a stumbling block after the initial success because the WiFi network ended up blocking the website used for our API. By the sounds of it, this is in hand though.
Now that we are connected to all databases, they are being combined by matching titles, identifying duplicates etc. The result will provide access to searchable data from all sources via one URL. James has already launched a temporary live demo page that connects to the databases. The first rough draft is based on story boards James designed with input from the user-focused teams last night. The website is currently at an early stage; so some buttons will work, some won’t. Feel free to rummage around.
There is also a shared file repository on github. It harbours user interface code, the backend REST API and photos from our brain storming sessions.
The next big goal is to develop the visual interface further to make search results visible to the website user. At the moment results appear only in code. The team also suggested that functionalities for location-based search and prioritising search results will require more development.
Team: Soul Cats
Teams Stripy Tops and Access All Areas have merged under the new name ‘Soul Cats’ (inspired by a T-shirt). This move made sense because both have been targeting user groups – the professional user (Stripy Tops) and the public (Access All Areas) – and now felt that their paths were converging.
The teams have drawn up more specific suggestions on user requirements based on the needs of different target groups. It’s quite impressive how yesterday’s wide-roaming discussions are now funneling into concrete scenarios and solutions. The obvious conclusion is to make the web interface simple – clear language, natural keywords, self-evident icons, sensible menu structure etc.
There was some discussion around:
options for geo-location of service providers relative to user addresses
including info on mobility/access issues e.g. stairs
including info on parking, public and community transport connections
including photos of the service location, exteriors and interiors, so that people easily recognise the place once there
The next steps will involve working closer with our coders and coming up with names for the page, categories etc.
We have volunteered to help solve issues around health care data. One problem is that health care data are currently maintained in (at least) three unconnected systems run by different organisations. These are ALISS, GCD (Grampian CareData) and MILO. The ultimate goal of this project is to create an open data source that provides accessible up-to-date information to the public and professionals.
These are the six presentations made by the teams at the conclusion of Code The City 7, Health Hack, captured on periscope.tv.
Team Float My Boat
An enhanced prototype has been created, with plans to create a more complete version. Using postcodes and mapping it would be straightforward to consume good data from elsewhere if available.
Some community centres and churches have over 100 groups operating at some point in the month. They can be hugely valuable, but somewhat invisible to the internet. Just making the existence of many of these groups visible can be a big step.
Also discussion of the importance of occupational therapists, librarians, dog walkers – many different individuals in the community that can feed valuable information into this kind of platform – important to remember that it’s not just primary care data that matters.
Some interesting visualisations of the underlying data were also created, and led to some interesting discussions around assumptions that are made about data. Again, the value of having the experts in the room at a hack event was demonstrated, as assumptions were challenged, and analysis changed based on feedback. Such feedback can often take weeks to acquire – but was available during the presentation. A snapshot of the data is available on github, and you can see the visualisation here.
The team have a working prototype, with functioning logic to query the Aliss dataset and return three results vis SMS. Pulling json data from Aliss based on a query generated from the SMS exchange, and sending those results.
The team say that there is still work to do to make this production ready, and some of the language processing and logic could be improved – but getting a working prototype over the course of the weekend is a real achievement. You can see elements of the code on github.
The limiting factor for this team has been the size of the datasets that they are working with, and the speed at which these can be moved around. Despite early setbacks with port access through the wifi (something we’re working on for the next weekend) the team were able to show some real results for the final presentation.
Some interesting findings around the geotagging, and inconsistencies that can arise. Some really interesting possible extensions to the project were discussed. The plan is to take this project ‘back to the office’ as the prototype for a full roll out to help optimise the use of lab support for GPs.
This team found that overlaps between their objectives and those of other teams were significant, so concentrated on some of the more ‘marketing’ aspects of service delivery – identity, and some thoughts around messaging to bring people into the service.
A good example of a service that could be rolled out quickly on top of the kind of datasets being used by the Float your boat project.
In the lead up to Code the City 7 we sent attendees some blank Barrier and Opportunity cards. We asked them to complete and bring them – with a single suggestion or idea per sheet.
On arrival people were to stick them to the wall. The response was great – with an enormous display of creativity quickly assembled. Many of these suggestions grouped well together. As we got started, five volunteers stepped forward to be the champion for one idea each, which formed the starting point of each of the projects taken forward during the weekend. You can read more about these from this blogpost onwards. Even the drawings accompanying the ideas were great – see the montage above!
But what of the remaining ideas – of which there were dozens? I read each of them and have summarised some of them – often grouping several together – below. Each of these has merit as a potential area to explore further (perhaps at a future event).
Find out how busy a GP practice is, before you register
It is suggested that there is no consistency across the NHS Grampian area – with some good examples of websites and some poor.
Waiting times for appointments at GPs’ surgeries?
Where is the data to show which days are busier than others. How could that help patients?
Live Tracking of referrals to consultants
Patients, on being referred to a consultant are often left in the dark for weeks or months until a letter arrives. How could that be made transparent? Could we have a ‘track my referral’ as you would a ‘track my parcel’? How or when will you get an appointment with a consultant? Could you self select from calendar rather than get one which doesn’t suit and has to be changed.
Lack of data interoperability between elements of health service / Health and Social Care etc.
Assist GPS to do more online – self service – online calendars for appointments – meaning that they can spend longer with patients or reduce waiting times for appointments
Citizen / Patient digital literacy
How could we assist patients to use digital services as these are developed. Which also raise the issue of health literacy – how could we assist people to understand their own health – e.g. cause and effect.
Persuade / help GPs to get citizens to use informal / community-based support
A shared calendaring across NHS Grampian to share training opportunities. Much training is common but is delivered is a siloed basis.
Develop a common organogram showing remits, areas of operation across the formal and inform H&SC landscape
Address the challenges of patients being treated in parallel between two specialists, so that they don’t feel that they are being passed from pillar to post.
These ideas alone would feed another three hack weekends! If you are interested in working or these – or sponsoring a further weekend such as this, please let us know!