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Hack the BMJ on 6th & 7th July

31 May, 13 | by BMJ

Since 1840, BMJ has been a trusted voice in the development of improved healthcare. We are proud of our heritage but also believe in looking forward. Our objective remains to support medical professionals and organisations in continuously improving the delivery of quality healthcare. By sharing our information, analytical tools and technology during an upcoming hack day (6-7 July), BMJ seeks to help healthcare professionals and organisations improve the care they provide.

A crowd of people ready to start Hack the Government 2013 with Rewired State

What is a hack day?

A hack day (also known as a hackathon, hackfest or codefest) is an event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development, collaborate intensively on software projects. We’re working with Rewired State,  an organisation that runs hack days, and curates a network of more than 1,000 software developers and designers. Their clients include government bodies, large private companies, conferences and charities. They were behind National Hack the Government Day, currently in its fourth year. The first event was “the catalyst for the landmark site and is widely acknowledged as the inspiration behind the UK government’s open data efforts.”

What are we looking for?

We’re inviting interested developers to focus on four categories:

1.   Digital Medical Students

Whether they’re in the lecture theatre or carrying out early rotations in A&E, what innovative applications could be built to create better doctors for our future healthcare needs?

2.   Create a ‘zero harm’ NHS

What could be done to prevent more unnecessary deaths, such as those seen at Mid Staff NHS Foundation Trust? There are 290 recommendations arising from the Francis report, which aims to create a ‘zero harm’ NHS.  Some recommendations have already been rejected or watered down in the government’s response. What innovative approaches can be used to kick start these recommendations, taking a radically different approach to traditional NHS technology procurement?

3.   Localise content through collaboration

Many developing countries look to westernised countries for the evidence on which to base their care. UK published materials, such as BMJ Best Practice, can provide healthcare professionals with a sound knowledge base but they need localisation to reflect not only differences in the prevalence of diseases but also in treatment options and how these treatments are delivered.

The challenge of localising content is significant. The cost of physical human translation is enormous and alongside the risk of mis­translating a key clinical concept or drug dose which could result in a loss of human life, to date it has not been considered commercially viable, if technically possible. Can crowdsourcing ever be applied to such a task, and if so, how would it work?

4.   Revolutionise the scholarly publishing process

The classical scholarly publishing model has not changed radically since the nineteenth century. A key criticism is the requirement to reduce years worth of research into a restrictive, text-based end product; the article of record. How could we capture more of the research process and enable collaboration before and after publication?


Judges will also be announced soon.

This will be a two day hack, with overnight for those wanting it at Hub Westminster, London, on the weekend of 6th/7th July.

Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) (subject to final confirmation): Content creators retain IPRs over original/hack day created code.

Code: Open-sourced with repositories publicly available encouraged.

Register for BMJ Hack Day >> 

Hack4ac – eLife

Also taking place on the Saturday is Hack4ac, which presents a great opportunity for collaboration over the two hack events. Hack4ac will focus on the journal and content side, and the BMJ hack day is going to focus on medical data and hacks that could help with front line patient support.

They have two goals:

  • Demonstrate the value of the CC-BY licence within academia. We are interested in supporting innovations around and on top of the literature.
  • Reach out to academics who are keen to learn or improve their programming skills to better their research. We’re especially interested in academics who have never coded before.

We are going to coordinate on the weekend of the event, and in the run-up to see if we can cross-fertilise ideas. We will be announcing a pub event in the run-up to the weekend so register above to receive updates.

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