Fixing Broken Care Journeys the INTEROPen Way

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On 14 and 15 October 2019, INTEROPen joined forces with facilitator teams from NHS X and NHS Digital to host a hackathon. The event was held at ODI Leeds and attended by 125 delegates from across the INTEROPen community, including members from 29 different vendor organisations. It was facilitated by specialists from NHS Digital, NHSX and Airelogic.

The aim of this event was to bring together health IT suppliers from across the INTEROPen community to help ‘hack’ towards resolving both architectural and technological hurdles, with the opportunity to produce first-of-type connections that have the potential to be scaled more widely.

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One Hackathon, 3 Streams

To offer participants the freedom to focus on their areas of expertise and interest, event preparation and activities on the day were segmented into the following ‘Streams’:

  • Patient Care Coordination (admissions, discharges, withdrawals to and from care settings/transfers of care)
  • Medicines Reconciliation/Consolidation
  • Events Management

Spanning these streams, we also had teams working on Authentication & Authorisation as well as facilitators for those wishing to use the National Record Locator.

Hack participants were encouraged to make use of CareConnect FHIR resources curated by the INTEROPen community which make it possible for us to further standardise and share data through APIs. Technical facilitators were on hand to help vendors, especially suppliers to the social care sector, who may not be so familiar with FHIR, to provide support and to sense-check examples for real-world use.

Demos and Education

In addition to the host of facilitators on hand throughout the two days, we were able to make use of a break-out space for demos and workshops for those looking for inspiration or new to FHIR technology. This space was also used for a horizon-scanning session during which 

At the end of the hackathon, hack teams were invited to deliver short 3-minute presentations of their work from the day, including any obstacles, challenges overcome and achievements. There were a total of 15 teams and presentations – most of which can be found here (although many chose to present demos from their own devices so have been chased for future sharing).

The audience was invited to use the app to vote for the three hack teams which had impressed them the most. The award for best solution went to Dovetail Labs, who won the greatest number of votes by a small margin.


The planning of this event was led by INTEROPen’s Comms and Engagement Lead, Helen Young, and supported by the team at Orion Health, Blackpool Teaching Hospitals, the NHS Digital Medications team, as well as technical coordination by Neil Robinson from NHS England. It was supported by the INTEROPen Co-Chairs, Luke Readman and David Hancock, Vendor Representative Ben McAlister and the NHS Digital teams from the GP Connect and NHS Login programmes.

In keeping with INTEROPen values, all vendors from across the community were invited to both take part in the planning as well as attend the hackathon event. Volunteers formed a core team who took part in weekly online planning sessions, together with the event leads. Information was shared openly on the Ryver collaboration platform throughout the planning process and during the hackathon itself.

A full description of the hackathon and its aims can be found here.


Participants were invited to ‘hack’ solutions using the CareConnect FHIR resources curated by the INTEROPen community. These profiles were approved for testing at a Board of Exception as part of the INTEROPen Board, which included contributions from technical leads from NHS Digital.

A dedicated folder was created on the INTEROPen Community G-Drive to provide open access to resources that would help teams prepare for the day. This included 3 sub-folders created by the core planning team for BACKGROUND: Child Growth and Adult Social Care context & info, the National Record Locator, and On The Day.

The information transferred on the day centered on Michael, whose history has been developed over time and previously used at INTEROP SUMMIT 2017 and three previous INTEROPen hackathons) and updated specifically for this event.


Feedback received in person at the event itself, on Slido, via social media including Twitter (under the #FHIRHack and #FHIRHack19 hashtags), and blog posts. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive with some useful learning for future events of this nature. Attendance at this hackathon was so high (plus there were quite a few last-minute arrivals that we didn’t want to turn away) that we had to order extra food and venue support on the day.

Slido, an online polling application, was used to ask the audience for some immediate feedback, including the question ‘Use one word to describe how you found this event’, to which the following answers were received:

Following the event, we developed a feedback survey to generate more in-depth information on what was achieved on the day and where we could improve. The anonymised responses to this survey can be found here.

Conclusion and Future

From the feedback received and the enormous technical progress made or initiated on the day, it can be concluded that INTEROPen’s ‘Fixing Broken Care Journeys’ Hackathon was a great success. Objectives for the day were tackled with enthusiasm by the teams, even those less familiar with FHIR technology and the range of educational workshops were particularly appreciated and well-attended. Verbal feedback from NHS Digital programmes involved in this event, most notably the Medications programme, have been very enthused by the progress seen in the run-up, during, and follow-up to this event. As always at INTEROPen hackathons, a great many more solutions were developed and proposed as an outcome than anticipated.


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