[Hackathon #11] - BCS Hackathon 2019

[Hackathon #11] - BCS Hackathon 2019

This is the first hackathon I am attending along with my co-founder, Ben Grubert, which is beneficial since we both complement each other in terms of skills and abilities, working well together. We had prior discussions on ideas before the hackathon.

Initial Idea

After considering different ideas, we decided to focus on a gum-like aspirin solution with flavoring, packaged with medical information stating "ONLY FOR HEART ATTACK" to be used specifically in such cases. The idea was to provide a convenient and accessible option for heart attack patients, allowing them to place the gum under their mouth and chew it. This approach aimed to prevent unauthorized use from first aid boxes. We also explored the possibility of incorporating this idea into a campaign to raise awareness about improving first aid boxes and ensuring proper stocking.

Further research was required, and we planned to discuss the idea with clinicians at the hackathon.

Team Building

On the day of the hackathon, Ben pitched our idea, and we tried to recruit additional team members. While doing so and talking to mentors, we encountered a few issues with our initial idea, leading us to refine it and conduct further research.

After discussions with various people, our final team consisted of the following members:

Panagiota's expertise in the inner workings of wards proved particularly valuable.

Idea Refinement

Through extensive discussions, we decided to shift our focus to improving the first aid box by introducing "Smart" features. The goal was to ensure compliance with regulations and maintain fully stocked first aid boxes in case of emergencies. Additionally, we explored the possibility of enhancing the user experience by including a phone inside the box or incorporating pre-recorded messages for specific items. These additions aimed to empower individuals with little to no knowledge of first aid to assist someone in need.

Further research was needed to understand the legal requirements, potential legal issues, and existing restocking systems.


Our initial research focused on the specific regulations governing first-aid boxes, which led us to the "Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981." Regulation 3 (Duty of employer to make provision for first-aid) addressed most of our questions.

Every employer should provide for each work site at least one first-aid container supplied with a sufficient quantity of first-aid materials suitable for the particular circumstances.

We discovered various statements similar to the one above, emphasizing the need for a "sufficient quantity" without specifying a minimum requirement. We also found regulation 3.42, which stated:

First aid at work does not include giving tablets or medicines to treat illness. The only exception to this is where aspirin is used as first aid to a casualty with a suspected heart attack in accordance with currently accepted first-aid practice. It is recommended that tablets and medicines should not be kept in the first-aid container.

This regulation partially dismissed our original idea, as it was not recommended.

While some team members searched for legal cases and spoke to first aiders, I discovered a recommended standard for first aid boxes called British Standard BS-8599-1. We obtained this information shortly before lunch and a talk.

During lunch, we had the opportunity to speak with a first aider contracted by Manchester Central Convention Complex, where the hackathon took place. We examined their BS-8599-1 compliant first aid box, learned about their restocking process, and reviewed their incident forms documenting material usage. Through these discussions, we realized that our initial idea might not be necessary.

GMEX First Aid Person

Pivoting Ideas

Around 2 PM on the first day, after further discussion with the team, we made the decision to change our idea. We shifted our focus to developing a patient and family empowerment platform aimed at reducing stress during medical situations.

This idea resonated with Ben personally, as he had experienced hospital stays and believed that such a platform would have facilitated his recovery.

After discussing the features, viability, and naming it "Nestle" (meaning "to settle or lie comfortably within or against something"), three areas remained to be developed on the second day:

Qualitative Research

Ben led the qualitative research, conducting surveys and interviews at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital. The feedback indicated a desire for our platform, confirming its potential value if implemented.

Quantitative Research

Panagiota led the quantitative research, finding supporting papers and statistics for our business case. We combined these findings with figures from NHS Reference Costs. Some of the papers we referenced were:

  • Britteon et al (2017). Association between psychological health and wound complications after surgery. British Journal of Surgery.
  • Broadbent, E., Petrie, K. J., Alley, P. G., & Booth, R. J. (2003). Psychological stress impairs early wound repair following surgery. Psychosomatic Medicine.

Ryan Kerstein, a mentor and surgeon, provided a statistic without specific sources, although we previously found a similar statistic through NHS complaints.

  • 47% Increase in Surgical Complications
  • 33% Complaints due to poor communication
  • 70,000 Last-minute cancellations
  • £1,200/hour cost to one theatre

Base Development (Messaging Platform)

Rishabh and I worked until nearly 6 PM to create a service that could be integrated into the platform. The service would send a pair of text messages to a patient and their listed next of kin. Using Twilio, we successfully sent the following pair of text messages to any given phone numbers, which we demonstrated during our presentation:

  • MR FIRSTNAME LASTNAME, you are scheduled for an operation in five days' time. We suggest you click the following link to log in to our new service, NESTLE.
  • MR FIRSTNAME LASTNAME, a next of kin is scheduled for an operation in five days' time. To track their progress, we suggest you click the following link to log in to our new service, NESTLE.

Day 2

When we arrived on the second day, our focus was on refining our research into coherent content and preparing a demo for the judges to use.

Ben created wireframes and UI designs, which helped us refine the user journey and how participants (patients and next of kin) would enter and use the system. While Ben worked on this, the rest of us continued refining the slides, conducting additional research, and working on development tasks.

The remaining few hours passed quickly, leaving us with a demo to present and just enough time to practice the presentation, refine aspects, and determine who would speak.

Demo Time

Ben and Panagiota represented our team during the presentation, while I ensured that the demo ran smoothly and that our chosen participants received the appropriate text messages via our demo service.

We listened to the other demos and were impressed by many great ideas, particularly from the team led by Sophie Ashcroft, who is a good friend of mine. We were uncertain about our placement, but personally, I believed we were among the top three.

When it came time for the announcements, to our delight, we won the hackathon, with Sophie's team coming in second place. This meant that Ben and Panagiota had to present our idea again at the BCS Conference, and we also had a small interview.

After the pitch at the conference, Sophie and I took a celebratory selfie outside, following the group pictures we had taken earlier.

Selfie with Sophie Ashcroft

We engaged in further discussions about developing our idea, as there was significant interest and potential funding opportunities for further advancement and implementation. We expressed our enthusiasm for the project and our willingness to pursue it if feasible.