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Jun 11, 2021

Hacking our way to better sexual health for all

Detailing the 2021 Feeld X SH:24 Hackathon collaboration

For the past two years, Feeld has held a remote hackathon. This year, Feeld decided to hold it in collaboration with a community partner and chose to collaborate with the sexual health charity, SH:24. SH:24 is a multi-award winning digital sexual health service, working in partnership with the NHS to deliver online sexual and reproductive services across the UK, 24:7. As a not for profit, SH:24 has an appetite for social good, innovation and sustainable growth. SH:24 offers remote STI testing, chlamydia treatment, treatment and diagnosis for genital warts and herpes, oral contraception, emergency contraception, longer-term contraceptive methods and pregnancy tests.

For the hackathon, the aim for Feeld's teams was to create a new kind of Electronic Health Record (EHR) for SH:24’s users. SH:24 plus a team from Feeld judged four different proposals created by four internal teams, and the winning team was awarded £5000 to donate to a charity or charities of their choice, plus a team experience of their choice.

It was an ideal collaboration. After all, Feeld believes in a world where people can explore their relationships without judgement, while SH:24 aims to make sexual and reproductive health stigma free and accessible to everyone. Put simply, Feeld cannot meet its mission unless organisations like SH:24 thrives.

While remote working is the norm at Feeld, the hackathon allowed team members to really put their communication and remote working skills to the test.

Feeld was split into four teams for the hackathon: Team Asslantic Records; Feeld TripPin; Committee for the Liberation and Integration of Terrifying Organisms and their Rehabilitation Into Society; and The Adams Family. The idea behind the creation of the teams was to ensure that members of the Feeld team that usually work in different departments from one another were united, so that staff were able to collaborate directly for a change, skill-sharing and learning from one another in the process.

As revealed in the briefing from Francesco Zanin, Head of Marketing, and Chris Howroyd, Design Lead of SH:24, the teams had a number of challenges to consider.

Firstly, there was the issue of security and data privacy being paramount, which the teams had to prioritise. Secondly, there was the possible interface with GP records. Thirdly, the was the matter of data privacy - how could the data interact potentially with third parties? Fourthly, there was the matter of how the product could be leveraged internationally. And finally, just what should the breadth of the product be, given that SH:24’s ultimate goal is to become the world’s leading digital sexual and reproductive health provider?

With all these taken into consideration, the teams set to work. Apart from the sizeable task of creating and presenting an EHR in just four days, this was a real test of cross-business collaboration and time-management skills.

Meanwhile, some of the positive repercussions of the hackathon were reported back by Feeld’s team members during the process.

Firstly, there was the communal working aspect. Juliano, our Senior Software Engineer, enjoyed 'almost three hours on a Zoom call in a non pressure environment, each one doing their work, asking questions when something came up, cheap chatting here and there. Almost like we were in an office working together! Made me want to do this more often.'

For some, it was the opportunity to deepen technical knowledge beyond daily doings. Dave, Feeld's Head of Infrastructure, 'it was the freedom to experiment with Crystal, a programming language I'd not used before, but had been meaning to try out when the stars aligned correctly'.

For Mitch, VP of Growth at Feeld, 'the biggest highlight so far has been approaching an entirely new concept with a structured, familiar approach (that we use at Feeld) — it puts things into perspective while also igniting a flame toward making brand new work! I can see how we will be able to take learnings from this case study and pull them back into working at Feeld, stronger across teams.'

Pedro reiterated the benefit to team working: 'There is a great value in everything that we do that involves people from different teams. You get to chat with ppl that would not cross paths with you on a regular basis.'

On Presentation Day, each team was assigned 10 minutes 'to wow and inspire’, presenting in any format they so chose by a minimum of two members of the team. In the end, it was Team Feeld TripPin that stole the show with a beautifully designed presentation that the judges unanimously decided to award first prize.

SH:24 was delighted with the result, reflecting that "We were hoping for creative ideas, from a different POV, to help us continue to innovate and improve how we enable users to access sexual health services, across the UK and beyond".

Feeld marked the end of the hackathon with a virtual social and drag show hosted by the fabulous Crystal Rasmussen (also know as Tom Rasmussen).

The winning team chose to donate their prize money to three charities - Gendered Intelligence, Great Ormond St Hospital, and NYC Food Bank.

Commenting on the overall success of the hackathon, CEO Ana Kirova said, "We had our second ever remote retreat this week. I can say once again that I definitely work in the best company in the world".

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