Hackathon tackles childhood obesity, substance abuse, and mental health

nhs Product Forge has partnered with NHS Information Services Division to host the Public Health Product Forge which kicked off Thursday evening at the Biscuit Factory in Edinburgh.

The event will run through Sunday with teams working feverishly over the weekend on digital innovations that focus on advancing a variety of hot topic public health issues, such as childhood obesity, substance abuse, and mental health.

Public health is “the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting, protecting and improving health through the organised efforts of society” – Sir Donald Acheson.

Thursday evening began with dinner and introductions from several mentors, including Chris Oliver, of The University of Edinburgh, Liam Cavin, of The Scottish Government, Robert Rea, of Scottish Health Innovations Ltd, Catherine Stables, of The University of Edinburgh, and Scott Heald of NHS Information Services Division.

“There’s now a real focus on public health in Scotland,” commented Heald, “so we thought it would be great to host another hackathon this time focusing on the use of data in health to inform that public health debate”.

Over the weekend participants have access to talks, guidance from mentors with a diverse range of backgrounds, as well as variety of data from The Scottish Government, Urban Big Data Centre, NHS Information Services Division, and the Scottish Public Health Observatory, to determine gaps where digital innovations could aid public health.

The use of data is crucial in paving the way to a brighter future in healthcare for both individuals as well as communities. Richmond Davies of NHS Information Services Division, observed: “Publishing data openly is a means by which you foster, you facilitate, you promote innovation”.

Sunday evening will see 14 teams present their prototype to a judging panel comprising Phil Couser, of NHS National Services Scotland, Marion Bain, of The Scottish Government, and Graham Watson, of Scottish Health Innovations Ltd.