Cancer data dive: a weekend to improve cancer care

Data scientists, clinicians and software developers are working together for three days and nights, to design digital prototypes aimed at improving NHS cancer care in Scotland.

The hackathon, which began yesterday evening, has been organised by Product Forge, the Edinburgh-based firm which brings together developers, creative specialists and entrepreneurs to build new products that solve real-world problems, and the Scottish Funding Council-supported Cancer Innovation Challenge.

Participants will form small cross-functional teams, hear presentations from experts, work on prototypes and then present their results on Sunday. Their focus will be what patients, patients’ families, carers, nurses and doctors would benefit from. In addition to a large collection of NHS open data, participants will also have access to computer generated synthetic data. These are representative of the structure, but not the content of data sets used by the NHS, including prescribing information and morbidity records.

They will enable the development of tools and processes that could subsequently, with appropriate NHS data control, be applied in real healthcare settings. The source code used for its generation will also be released, and there will be an opportunity to build on the original work on the synthetic data sets.

The Cancer Innovation Challenge is funded by the Scottish Funding Council and is a collaboration between the Data Lab, the Digital Health & Care Institute and Stratified Medcine Scotland. It is also supported by NHS National Services Scotland, the Usher Institute, the Innovative Healthcare Delivery Programme, Edinburgh University, the Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions Research Unit and Stirling University.

Product Forge runs hackathons “with a twist”; the events develop teams and products that tackle society’s hardest challenges. Participants use design thinking and digital technology to rapidly prototype their ideas, with support from mentors who have real world commercial experience. It also hosts livestreams for a range of technology, design and enterprise events, including interviews with startup founders and entrepreneurs.