NHS Hack Day winners claim app will save £3m

The winners of a free software app created at the first NHS Hack Day claim their product could save the NHS £3m per year in lost time

The winners of a free software app created at the first NHS Hack Day claim their product could save the NHS £3m per year in lost time.

The browser-based Patient List system is intended to reduce the number of mistakes made in care during handovers between shifts of medical staff.

The Patient List app was created in 24 hours at the NHS Hack Day event, which brought together doctors, programmers and developers.

The application uses a feed from the hospital's electronic medical records to provide doctors with a list of all their patients. The list allows them to create task lists, update a patient's record of care and better manage the handover of patients between shift teams and hospital departments.

It will be developed into a free, open-source product that can be easily downloaded and installed by any NHS hospital trust. The winning team was made up of New Context Scotland’s Paul Wilson and Adrian Mowat, Value Decision's Eckhard Schwarzat, Tactix4'sRob Dyke and Dr Colin Brown of the Health Protection Agency and St Thomas' Hospital.

Colin Brown. from the Health Protection Agency, who helped create the app, said: "There is no way for junior directors to keep track of where patients are, apart from manual tracking, and even then the information is not always easily viewable.

"Information has a tendency to go missing or get shredded, so this helps with governance and doctors can log in wherever they are in the hospital. We estimate that this device could save the NHS £3m in lost time."

He added the use of apps among patients and doctors was part of a move to a more digitised health service.

The Department of Health hopes opening up data will stimulate the development of healthcare apps, which could help doctors and patients use information more effectively.

Giles Wilmore, senior responsible owner for the NHS Information Strategy, said the department would not take a top-down approach to stimulating the release of apps: "I'm really enthused about the number of ideas we have which we need to encourage as much as possible. This is not something that could have been generated by the centre.

"We don't want to run a big national procurement, but create something which harnesses the local dynamism and innovation," he told Computer Weekly at an event which showcased ideas for new and existing health smartphone apps, seen as key to the Department of Health's information strategy.

Wilmore said the Department of Health opening up data would be key to stimulating innovation, with the department having recently made lung cancer data available, with plans to also release clinical audit data.

"The agenda will be to routinely release data held at an aggregate level," he said.

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