My first 3 months at BMJ

Looking back if I was to summarise my first 3 months at BMJ, confusion would be the best word to describe it. Moving from one company to another can be a daunting task, a plethora of questions goes through one’s mind. There are the big questions such as; What are my colleagues going to be like? Will I be appreciated? How many holidays do I get in a year? To the trivial questions such as; When do I get paid? Where’s the nearest toilet? What’s the quickest route to the office? While I was finding the answers to these questions and learning more about the technology behind the BMJ’s many products it was a challenging time for the tech department where we saw many departures. Two colleagues left within my first week, followed by another two leaving before the new year. However one thing that reassured me was that everyone was leaving after a few years of employment here, which was a positive sign.

I had previously been working at a startup called Noetic Marketing Technologies, who focus on the revolutionising the entire hotel and guest experience. They provide automated processes to the guests, predict purchasing behaviour, match the right promotion to the right guest via detailed analytics and complex data workflows. Transitioning from a small office to a large company took some adjusting, as previously if I needed something from someone we were all in the same physical space. Whereas in BMJ you find that a person can be on a different floor or completely different department. Noetic only had 10 employees in the UK office and around 20 in their Sri Lanka office. Since there wasn’t that many people to begin with, it meant one person was wearing a lot of hats. For example, the Business Analyst doubled as a Devops Engineer and most HR matters such as Payroll or Pensions were handled by one of the co-founders. So the comparison was not only surprising but a great relief because not only do BMJ have appointed departments but someone focused solely on Learning & Development or Pensions.

What attracted me towards working at the BMJ was the option of working across different disciplines and not being pigeonholed into one role. I was primarily a Java based Server Side Developer using Spring Boot to develop RESTful APIs but since being at the BMJ I have worked on various things such as fixing minor UI bugs, making changes to a JavaScript based lambda and most recently the Jenkins migration to AWS. This is great for someone like me who loves to learn and try new things, as every day is different. The flexibility of working across the stack is something I greatly appreciate. The technology and tools being used here were similar to what I was working with at Noetic, one analogy I often use is “It’s when you already know how to drive a car but now you need to learn how to drive a truck”.

Embracing Accessibility in Agile Workflows

The design and implementation of accessible features has long been a bugbear for designers and developers alike. That’s not surprising – the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) committee have done a great job of obfuscating the task of delivering inclusive designs.

Take a look at the WCAG 2.0 website. Wade through it. Attempt to make sense of it. It’s labyrinthine! Don’t have to take my word for it either. As an A List Apart article put it:

“the fundamentals of WCAG 2 are nearly impossible for a working standards-compliant developer to understand”.

Continue reading Embracing Accessibility in Agile Workflows

A physio in your pocket

By Navraj S Nagra and Maxime Cox

Knee replacement is regarded as one of the most sucessful medical interventions (1); over a hundred-thousand knee replacements were performed across the UK last year (2). This number is ever-increasing in the context of an ageing population (2). Whilst knee replacement is undoubtedly effective, a key and often variably implemented part of rehabilitation is the subsequent physiotherapy (3).

Current physiotherapy provision has several problems. Firstly, it is expensive (4). Secondly, there is a shortage of physiotherapists in the NHS. Models have shown that an extra 500 physiotherapists need to join the workforce each year just to keep track with demand (5). As a result, patients will only see a physiotherapist once or twice after a knee replacement. Thirdly, a significant proportion of patients have poor compliance to physio (6).
Continue reading A physio in your pocket

Learning To Entrepreneur – The Hard Way

My name is Fares, and I somehow became a recognised health tech entrepreneur.

About two years ago, I had to undergo surgery and was prescribed lots of different medicines. Antibiotics, painkillers, you name it. It was a fairly painful experience keeping track of the medicines I was taking, and my parents were always worried about me because they live abroad. And that’s where my journey started.

In the summer of 2016, I applied to Kings20, the King’s College London Accelerator with my venture The Medic App. The app was a medication reminder designed for carers to help them schedule track medication reminders for their loved ones. This solved the two problems I knew I had: my parents wouldn’t be worried about me because they could see me taking my medicines, and I would not forget to take my medicines again.
Continue reading Learning To Entrepreneur – The Hard Way

WhatsApp in the NHS – Framing the problem

By  Joel Schamroth and Lucinda Scharff

With 1960s technology the status quo for communication in hospitals, it is no surprise that the NHS has a WhatsApp problem. The recent article by O’Sullivan and colleagues (1) published by the BMJ further emphasises the point. Instant messenger use is widespread and deeply ingrained in the workings of the modern NHS.

 Our own UK wide data supports that of our Irish colleagues. Gathering data from over 60 trusts we found that 91.9% of doctors surveyed reported using some form of external instant messaging app at work. More importantly 83.3% had sent or received an instant message containing patient identifiable data (PID).

Headlines about ‘rampant use of WhatsApp’ will garner clicks and attention, but this needs further examination. Discussing ‘clinical information’ is a broad term, which must be unpacked if we are to understand how WhatsApp is being used, when this is inappropriate and how we provide clinicians with solutions. Continue reading WhatsApp in the NHS – Framing the problem

How tech can combat NHS prescription fraud

by Stephen Bourke

Analysis published last week by the NHS estimates that £1.25bn of fraud is being committed each year by patients, staff and contractors. That’s around 1% of the NHS budget.

Patients who falsely claim exemption from the NHS prescription charge, alone, are costing the taxpayer at least £200 million a year. Continue reading How tech can combat NHS prescription fraud

Quantum Computing And Health Care

By Adrian Raudaschl

Over the last two decades, advancements in medicine and biomedical research have been vastly improved thanks to the continuous increases in computer processing.

As we begin to enter an age of personalised healthcare, dependent on genomics, individual physiology and pharmacokinetics the need to take huge amounts of data and process it in a format for clinical use will become more urgent. Quantum computing may be our best tool for achieving this.

Continue reading Quantum Computing And Health Care

Never mind the Blockchain, we need to fix the basics

by Stephen Bourke.

My wife and I recently had a baby daughter and, from a care perspective, the experience was outstanding. From our first nervous appointment, to the paramedics who rushed us to the delivery room, I’ve rarely seen passion or professionalism like it.

I’ve also rarely seen quite as much paperwork. Here is about 10% of what we have received so far:

It’s 2017 and our daughter’s arrival has been tracked and documented through the medium of pen and paper. At one point I swear I saw our midwife use a rubber. We’re inundated by talk of how robots will replace doctors, blockchain will transform health records and how we are on the verge of a technological revolution in healthcare. And it’s certainly an exciting time to work in our sector, but it feels a little premature to discuss artificial intelligence when the NHS remains world’s largest purchaser of fax machines.

Continue reading Never mind the Blockchain, we need to fix the basics

The Amazing Growth Of Citizen Medicine

by Dr. Adrian Raudaschl

There is a feeling that researchers, patients and healthcare providers are growing increasingly unhappy with the state of scientific and medical research  (10, 11).

Patient groups like Alzheimer’s Society go as far as to use member donations to fund their own research and leverage internal expertise to help speed up the development of new treatments 1. This is a twist on the conventions of medical science, and arises out of frustration of the lack of attention and funding for certain medical conditions like dementia  (12).

Combine this trend with a decrease in new drug discoveries, the rising costs of medication, a decreasing cost of scientific equipment/services, open access to scientific literature and I get the feeling a revolution in how patients and organisations engage with healthcare is coming.

Continue reading The Amazing Growth Of Citizen Medicine

Using mother nature to inspire the next generation of medical implants and devices

by Dr. Gavin Hazell

Medical devices are ubiquitous in modern medicine. Devices range from simple catheters to artificial cardiac devices and complex materials that can replace our own joints. Contemporary surgical procedures have revolutionised our approach to joint replacement with 160, 000 total hip and knee replacement procedures performed each year in England and Wales. Medical implants have seen a rapid expansion in use which has been facilitated by technological advances and reduced manufacturing costs. Today, these devices profoundly impact patient quality of life and disease outcome.

However, all of these devices suffer from a major weakness. They are susceptible to bacterial colonisation, which leads to a medical device associated infection. Once bacteria adhere to the surface of an implant they grow and proliferate until a dense bacterial film resides on the surface, known as a biofilm. The presence of such a bacterial layer leads to the failure of the medical device and puts the patient at risk of sepsis and death.

Continue reading Using mother nature to inspire the next generation of medical implants and devices