Design Challenge celebrates successes

Richard Stubbs, Commercial Director at Yorkshire and Humber Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) has praised the creativity shown by teams taking part in the Digital Health Design Challenge.


The Digital Health Design Challenge, which took place at the Digital Media Centre (DMC) in Barnsley, brought together technology innovators, healthcare professionals and patients to co-create new products for the NHS and wider healthcare sector.

Richard, pictured right, who was a member of the judging panel, said: “The adoption of health innovation and increased use of technology is vital if the NHS is to create services fit for the future.

“It was very encouraging to see the commitment to co-design and partnership working in response to patient care challenges at this event. There is a real drive to resolve these issues as creatively as possible and the Design Challenge participants showed a real energy and passion for delivering high quality patient-centred solutions. We are overdue a digital health revolution in the NHS and events such as this help to bring that vision a little bit closer.”

During the event, teams tackled a wide selection of patient care challenges identified by local NHS trusts over two ‘hackathon’ days. The whole event aimed to encourage greater collaboration and partnership working to support digital health innovation in the NHS.

The challenge was organised through the Connected Healthcare programme which has been initiated and organised by the DMC, through Barnsley Council’s Enterprising Barnsley business support programme, in partnership with sponsors Yorkshire & Humber AHSN and Tech North.

Winners received prizes designed to help them carry forward their ideas.

Digital design agency HMA worked with frontline staff from Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust to devise a new app which could help people with learning disabilities communicate their sometimes complex needs to improve their experience of treatment and care. Their innovation won them a combined business support package from Yorkshire & Humber AHSN and Enterprising Barnsley, to help boost their product development plans.

Gospelware, working with a team from the multiple sclerosis charity and a consultant neurologist and specialist nurse from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, created an app to help people with MS to monitor and manage fatigue issues. Their proposal won them a £5,000 Innovation Voucher from the Centre for Assistive Technology and Connected Healthcare (CATCH), at the University of Sheffield who judged it the most promising idea linked to their research themes. Their investment, which must be match-funded, comes with specialist development support input from CATCH too.

Enterprising Barnsley’s DMC project director Tracey Johnson said: “We are really pleased with the way creative businesses, healthcare professionals and academics have come to the DMC and embraced the Design Challenge.

“The participants have co-created some excellent ideas through this process and we hope to see several of their prototypes further developed as patient care solutions. We particularly look forward to working with the AHSN to help HMA work up a successful business model for their new product.”

Richard was joined at the event by Phillipa Hedley-Takhar, Head of Investment and Partnerships at the Yorkshire & Humber AHSN.

Phillipa worked with our Yorkshire & Humber Innovation Champions, John Crossland and Darren Howlett, to support the Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in identifying key challenge areas for the Design Challenge.

The Design Challenge judging panel included Steve Wragg, chair of Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust; Richard Stubbs, commercial director, Yorkshire & Humber AHSN; Tania Hide, Head of Economic Development, University of Sheffield; Rob Lewis, Head of Health Transformation, R&D Innovation, Reckitt Benckiser; Dr Peter Cudd, President of the Association for the Advancement of Assistive Technology in Europe; and Phil Coffin, Head of Creative Strategy, Appitized Health.

Steve Wragg chair of Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: “The Design Challenge was a unique opportunity for our staff to meet digital designers face-to-face and analyse a service delivery challenge together, then come up with the prototype for a digital solution to tackle it. It was a really interesting event and we do feel we have made some good relationships to build on for future innovation too.”

Phillipa will be speaking at the Connected Healthcare ‘Access to Finance’ event at the DMC on June 10th. This event will consider sources of funding which may be available to develop healthcare solutions and is open to all designers and creative and digital agencies – whether or not they have participated in the Design Challenge.

Phillipa is a member of the steering group supporting the Connected Healthcare programme.

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