First INTEROPen Virtual Hack – the Wessex Medication Interoperability Hackathon

18 December, 2020 | By Andy Hadley

Our Solution Architect, Andy Hadley, reflects on a busy couple of days.

The Wessex team helped facilitate the first Hackathon to be hosted virtually. We were using Zoom and had about 100 delegates, many side-rooms for individual topics with 6 actively used, and a series of elective seminars to spread the learning.  This was a complicated logistical challenge, though the challenges were quite different from what we had prepared to deal with when originally planning the hackathon in early 2020.  The Wessex Care Records team were helping to support the event, hosted by INTEROpen which was an experience in itself.  Michelle and Paul did a great job supporting Helen Young in facilitating and shepherding lost souls to the right place and recording sessions. We were also using the INTEROpen shared space on Ryver, and I think a number of other conversations and collaborations were sparked via Slack and other channels.


Participants: David Hancock, Andy Hadley and Neil Robinson, and a keynote from David Turner, Chief Technology Officer for NHSx – (to view, use Chrome not MS IE)

Emma and Ian joined me as we roved around the space, listening in, and generally absorbing the progress. I dropped into a really interesting unstructured discussion on patient-initiated medications, and how those might feed from a personal held record to a consolidated record. One aspect to consider is whether we could capture the gap between medicines that we may supply but the patient opts not to take, or as my doctoring son advised, and I had woven into the scenario, the over the counter meds like St Johns Wort interacting with prescribed meds.

There were useful presentations on how to access national resources, on the new Ontology Server, on consolidating and reconciling medicines records, and other topics.

To wind down from day one, and as an ode to the physical hackathon that before Covid-19 we had hoped to host in Southampton, I gave a whistlestop tour of the Wessex area, via Zoom, with nothing more than Google Maps and photos, and an imperfect eclectic memory.

At the end of day 2, we were joined for the summing up by a further 50 delegates, and everyone was given time to summarise their efforts over the two days. Of course, the main output of these events is to have given delegates space, collaboration and enthusiasm to work together towards a collective goal. I In this case the teams tackled probably the most tricky but worthwhile part of our complex discipline, how to pass, combine, update and share complex medications records across care settings in a clinically safe way.


The summing up is recorded here (sadly we missed recording the beginning of Luke’s summary)

Everyone voted at the end on the best project, and one of the great aspects that the winning team, from, was that they confirmed that all the learning from last year’s medications hack was already in live use.  They then showed how they had made real progress across the breadth of our example patient, Michael’s, story.  The final commitment is equally exciting – Better will be implementing what they did in the hack into their EPMA solution.

I’d like to mention a second team, also highly impressive to me because they seemed to be a sole developer, from Birdie and had ingested GP Connect information into his handheld point of care solution for Care Home staff.  In doing so, he was breaking down barriers, and achieving sharing of knowledge to those at the frontline of social care.  With the ongoing challenges our colleagues in social care have been working through tirelessly for so many months, I think we would struggle to find a better example of how and why hackathons, though it may have seemed like a mammoth Zoom session, will actually make breakthrough to allow our frontline health and care colleagues to have the best information at their fingertips, and provide the best care they can to our friends, neighbours and families in the months and years to come.