Review: Hack Ortho with the Royal Society of Medicine

2nd Nov 2015

When surgeon, MyRecovery co-founder and fellow member Tom Harte approached us about conducting an orthopedic hack in partnership with the Royal Society of Medicine (RSM) we were thrilled.

We are now in a new era where hacks are considered to be an effective platforms for tackling complex problems. Hackathons have been around since the early 90s, however it was the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) hacks that have aided in turning hacks into the widespread realm as we know. Leading the way MIT have hacked a wide range of industries for more than ten years, , ranging from the arts to medicine. They have proved that gathering a diverse group of people for a sustained amount of time can lead to breakthroughs.

We wanted to start paving the way for a similar tradition to ensue in the UK. The idea is not to compete as the UK is structured differently the the US, especially when considering MedTech, however there is room for an organisation like the Royal Society of Medicine to create a strong platform for a hacking culture to proliferate within healthcare in the UK.

The most prominent asset the UK has in regards to healthcare is decades of centralised data thanks to the NHS, something that the US and many other countries do not have. This could leapfrog the UK healthcare years ahead as it only has to mine the data rather than start from scratch and collect it. We are sitting in a wealth of possibilities and opportunity to make huge medical advancements.

Defining a hack

Not all hacks are created equal, there is a real need for quality control and structure to heighten the value of the outcomes produced by them. Our priority for this hack was to produce a useable solution, therefore we set five heuristics and elements for the two days.

Diversity // The most important element of a hack is the people. Curating a diverse group of people who will both challenge and compliment each other allows for innovation to flow more organically.

Small // We kept the hack small (25 people ) to ensure that people engaged in a deeper discussion at the beginning of the hack. This allowed people to air out their questions, concerns, and challenges.

Time // The most detrimental mistake one can make when solving a problem is solving the wrong one. Therefore slowing people down so they have time to understand the whole environment and supply chains of a problem is crucial to identifying and defining the problem. By ensuring to give guiding surgeons a lot of time to express their frustrations, questions, and challenges they face on day to day basis. Allowing for this time at the beginning of the hack, it helps to move things much faster in the implementation stage, as all the bitty discussions no longer need to be and there is less backtracking.

Human Centric // We decided that it would good practice to have the surgeons i.e. the end user involved in the hack. As the priority was to solve a real problem, we wanted to ensure that they were involved in the entire process. At times we forget that technology is not the priority when creating digital solutions, it’s the end user. The surgeons and patients were our top priority throughout the entire process.

Adoption // A solution is not great if it cannot be implemented, therefore we must think about the full environment and back check that every element of the solution fits within its environment. The rejection of solutions comes from creating something that is too alien and doesn’t make sense to the environment.


Organisers //

  • Tom Harte: Surgeon
  • Araceli Camargo: Cognitive Neuroscientist (THECUBE)
  • Axel Sylvan: Surgeon

Surgeons //

  • Tony Antonios: RSM Ortho Trainee Rep
  • John Hardman: Ortho SpR
  • Zac Silk: Ortho SpR
  • Pierre Pechon: Ortho SpR
  • Paddy Subramanian: Ortho SpR
  • Joon Ha: Ortho SHO
  • Mohammed Monem: Core Surgical Trainee

Hackers  //

  • Emem Rita Usanga:  Strategy
  • Jonathan Lifschutz:  Data/Technology
  • John Banks: Physics
  • Henry Mann: Data/Technology
  • Niall McDonagh: Strategy
  • Maya Bonkowski: Systems Design
  • Juan Jimenez:  Mobile Development
  • Simon West: Game Development
  • Josh Artus: Property
  • Michelle Hawkins: Head of Futures (Virgin Care)
  • Dan Brady: Advertising