On Thursday June 9 we invited BCS student chapters to the Open Data Institute in Leeds for a workshop run by BCS and NHS Digital (http://www.hscic.gov.uk/). This workshop covered two of the BCS challenges, personal data and health and care.
The event was opened by David Evans, Director of Policy and Community at BCS, and Rachael Allsop the head of workforce at NHS Digital. Rachael talked about the importance of ensuring our data is protected, and ideally self-tracked. She asked - how do we get people talking charge of monitoring their own health with wearables? On the surface it seems as though we're talking about healthcare and data, but Rachael and David acknowledged that fundamentally this conversation is about people and relationships.
We then got to hear from graduates working in technical roles at NHS Digital. They gave us information on how they were recruited, what skills were required and the variety of things they do as part of the graduate programme. Zibair is a graduate assistant data manager - on his placements so far he has learnt business analysis, requirements gathering and process documentation (amongst many other things!). He explained that the graduate scheme involves different placements which you can choose from in order to learn new skills. We then heard from Dan who works in user experience design. His role involves user research, identity verification, and creating wire frames. Dan told us about some of the tools and technologies he has used e.g. Docker, C++, creative cloud, bootstrap, and ForgeRock. When asked about what it was like to make the adjustment from university to a graduate scheme Zibair and Dan told the students not to worry (despite the harsh realisation that there is more than one 7 o’clock in the day!) the graduate scheme has a relaxed environment which makes for a smooth transition.
Prior to the event we told attendees about some of the real world problems NHS Digital are facing and asked which of these they would be keen to focus on for a practical group session. The responses to this helped us to build sessions on NHS Wi-Fi, paperless NHS, linking health records to apps and wearable tech, and a mental health data exercise. Students split into groups based on their preferred topic and shared their ideas on these issues. The teams then presented their findings in a Dragon’s Den style pitch.
While the judges carried out their deliberations for the winning team we had the closing speech from Tom Denwood, National Provider Support Director at NHS Digital. Tom explained his commitments to rolling out NHS Wi-Fi and praised the students for their insight into this issue. He explained his career history from biology degree to Deloitte telecoms, to London transport scheme to running projects in NHS IT. Tom recalled his days as a student and helped them feel empowered to innovate an efficient and insightful digital future.
Each team then received feedback on their pitches, the wearable tech/app team were the winners. The team looked at implementing wearable technology which is privy to your lifestyle data, medical history and family history. The wearable would notify your GP if there's change to your health data, for example, your doctor could see if there was a sudden change in blood pressure. This would mean that next time you visit the doctor they will have the statistical information in advance thereby making appointments more efficient. The wearable can work out what is normal to you - and can keep an extra eye on things you have a history of, so the technology is individualised. The team acknowledged data protection, security and data mining issues associated with a technology of this kind.
We then wrapped up and walked down to Lambert's Yard where we spent the evening at the BCS IT Impact event. It was great to have some students join in the discussion as they brought a different perspective to the conversation.
Huge thanks go to the Open Data Institute for hosting us, to NHS Digital for the time and effort that went into planning and running the event with us, and to the students for sharing their ideas and enthusiasm.