The Social Innovation Camp express

February’s Social Innovation Meetup was all about how you can provide better health care by supporting people to help themselves

It usually takes us about four months to run the whole Social Innovation Camp – right through from call for ideas to the weekend itself.

But we like a challenge, so at our February Social Innovation Meetup we decided to see what would happen if we tried to run the whole lot in about an hour and a half.

We brought 70 unsuspecting people along for the ride and – to our surprise – it worked pretty well!

Kicking off with our usual labels, marker pens and post-its, we got everyone thinking about a social problem they’d like to tackle. This month, we wanted to get people talking about health care: how can social technology be used to make the health care system better and support people to lead healthier lives?

We chose five of the most original suggestions and everyone picked one to work on for the evening. We then challenged our participants to think through how their idea would work in reality. Thirty minutes later, the five teams had to come up with some answers: what technology would they use to solve their problem? How would they sustain and grow the idea? What would it be called?

Four months work an hour and a half later, here’s what they pitched at the end of the evening:


In a serious emergency, you call 999 and when you’ve got an ongoing illness you can call NHS Direct. But where do you go when it’s not a life-threatening emergency, yet you need someone to provide basic first aid? By geotagging the positions of qualified first aiders, FindAid would help you locate someone with first aid skills when and where you needed them. Signing up volunteers through local first aid courses, FindAid would then market the service to Primary Care Trusts as a way of saving money and resources spent dealing with minor emergencies.

Positive stories for health care

We do love to moan – especially about our public services. But it’s not all bad: what about the good stories that come out of the NHS? The unsung heroes? And the appreciated time and care given to patients? This Social Innovation Meetup team wanted to let people record all the good things about their health care by building a platform for users to film a video response of their experience, tag it appropriately and create a tailored feed for health care providers to purchase.

Google mapped the spread of flu by analysing the frequency of related search terms. But could you map your local area according to how healthy it is? This team suggested getting patients and GPs – as well as hypochondriacs! – mapping where they found instances of bugs and allergies, from chickenpox to asthma.

Dyspraxia is a neurological condition affecting the ability to coordinate movement. Whilst up to ten percent of the population may show symptoms and two per cent are severely affected, dyspraxia is still poorly understood. Through a web-enabled campaign, would both raise awareness of its symptoms and build a supportive community for sufferers. It would include a diagnostic tool, be integrated into existing support structures for dyspraxia sufferers and provide a platform for a community of users to share their stories and experiences. We caught Julie Dawson talking about the idea on camera.


Around 5 million outpatient appointments were missed in 2008 – a waste of both time and resources for the NHS. Attend would tackle this problem by building an online appointment booking system similar to sites used for reserving a train ticket or air fare. In addition to extra flexibility when booking an appointment, there could be a text service to remind you to attend plus a way of alerting patients to earlier appointments should they become available. Attend could also be a way of collecting data on when and why appointments are most likely to be missed, helping health care providers to predict when patients are least likely to show up in future.

Not bad for an evening’s work! And we’re going to bringing the express version of Social Innovation Camp to life again on March 18th at Tequila, when the fabulous Do The Green Thing are going to be helping us think about our changing climate. You can sign up to come along here.

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