NHS Hack Day: Coffee, Apps and Vision

Y grwp yn gweithio'n galed / The group hard at workIt’s day 2 of the NHS hackday, and I’ve just been chatting to Peter Davies, who is a Consultant in Diabetes in Sandwell and West Birmingham, over a couple of large cups of coffee. Peter made the trip to Cardiff just to be involved in the event.

It was fascinating to hear Peter talk about how events like this can add value to the NHS by involving people early on in the design process.

“If you don’t engage people clinically, forget it, it ain’t going to work. Experience from around the world says if you don’t engage stakeholders and use their skills, then you’ll waste time and effort”.

There are some fantastic healthcare apps being developed at the moment, such as the Futisu app that uses a camera to track subtle colour changes of the face to monitor heart rate, and Peter’s group is developing another to help to improve healthcare.

Luke Anderson da enghraifft o'r cardiau / Luke Anderson with an example of teh cards

Luke Anderson, an Opthamologist at the Heath Hospital explained to me how cards are currently used to chart the eye movement of children below the age of 2 and people who can’t vocalise. This can be subjective as it depends on where you think the patient is looking. The group is looking to create a screening tool on an iPad that can measure the eyesight. It will flash fun images to attract the eyes, and the app will then track where the eyes are looking. If the patients eyes aren’t looking to where they should, then there may be issues. The images will all be in a neutral grey, because different levels of brightness would skew the results as they would attract the eyes differently. The app will give an accurate level of visual acuity and help to avoid unnecessary surgery.

The group are using open source code from OpenCV that enables the iPad’s camera to fix the position of your face, which they have then adapted to meet their needs. Now they’ll share the changes they’ve made to the code so that it can in turn be used by the open source community.

The group isn’t looking to go it alone with this product – they hope to link it to Open Eyes, an electronic patient record that is run out Moorfield so the data can be used further.

Peter can see how this could be used from his direct experience – he encounters patients with thyroid problems, which causes issues with vision. It’ll be fascinating to see how the group’s application will be taken forward and developed further.



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