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Can tech firms help tackle Norfolk’s healthcare challenges?

PUBLISHED: 10:12 02 March 2016 | UPDATED: 10:12 02 March 2016

Shaun Lowthorpe, left, with Niall Cook, centre, organiser of the Norwich Hacking Health Event, and Max Applin, managing digital director of Applin Skinner discussing the March 12 event on Business Extra.

Shaun Lowthorpe, left, with Niall Cook, centre, organiser of the Norwich Hacking Health Event, and Max Applin, managing digital director of Applin Skinner discussing the March 12 event on Business Extra.

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Imagine a world where you download video advice from your GP via your iPad, or use a smart phone to be reminded to take your medicines.

The rapid development of technology means that those types of solutions will be available to us sooner than we think.

And now the potential of tech to innovate health and social care in Norfolk is to be put to the test at an event in Norwich.

The first Health Hackathon, which takes place at the Centrum on March 12, will task health professionals, researchers and entrepreneurs to come up with innovative digital solutions to some of the health sector’s most pressing problems.

The 12-hour event will see teams brainstorm technology solutions to challenges in the areas of dementia, childhood obesity, and medicine compliance, posed by organisations including the Norfolk and Suffolk Dementia Alliance and Healthy Norwich (a collaboration between the Norwich Clinical Commissioning Group and local councils).

During the evening, each team will present its concept to a judging panel consisting of representatives from two local NHS Foundation Trusts and The King’s Fund.

The winning team will receive a cash prize, a trophy and a ticket to attend and present their idea at the Doctors 2.0 & You event in Paris (www.doctors20.com).

There will also be a People’s Choice award for the idea that other delegates think is the most interesting and innovative.

It is not the first time the city’s tech innovators have turned their attentions to the health sector.

Last year’s Sync the City event saw a start-up pitch for Docdirect, a website aimed at automating the process of recruiting locum doctors which hoped to save the NHS millions in agency fees.

Niall Cook, one of the organisers of the event, said: “There’s lots of people inside the NHS working in health and also in wellbeing. There’s lots of people who have got fantastic ideas but they see it from the coalface and they’ve got no outlet to turn it into something real – and that’s what we are hoping to do.”

Max Applin, managing digital director of Applin Skinner in Norwich, who is taking part in the event, said businesses could introduce disruptive technologies and transform the way services are delivered.

“Researchers have got some great ideas to solve problems, but they don’t have the technology know know on how to bring these ideas to market. Where the technology businesses can help is providing that bridge between brilliant ideas and functional usable products.”

Watch more about the Health Hackathon on Thursday’s Business Extra on Mustard TV, straight after the news bulletin.

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