Media design and technology graduates deliver medical web apps in record time – University of Bradford

Web apps

New system to support NHS trust dealing with influx of new staff ‘being looked at nationally’

Front end web developers, digital designers and content creators from the Working Academy, based at the University of Bradford, have swung into action in response to the Covid-19 pandemic to produce user-friendly ‘apps’ and websites for the NHS that may save lives.

The services are already being used by care providers and thousands of patients.

One project involves the creation of an online portal – known as C-ARE (Crisis – assess | response | escalate) – for existing staff moving to critical departments like A&E and ICU and for the dozens of new staff joining the NHS in Bradford as part of the national response to coronavirus.

It goes live today (Thursday April 9, 2020) and is already being considered for use in other NHS trusts.

Another has seen a GP website overhauled to make it more responsive to patients wanting to engage online and a third is enabling cardiology consultants to conduct ‘virtual’ angina clinics, thereby removing the need (and risk) of them attending appointments in person.

Head of the Working Academy, Simon Couth, who works closely with the Faculty of Engineering & Informatics, said the work had been completed in record time.

“During normal times, web app development would take three to four months – we have completed the hospital ‘extranet’ C-ARE project in just three weeks.”

The Working Academy, supported by the University’s digital health facility, the Digital Health Enterprise Zone, has been helping students from the Department of Media Design and Technology for a decade. It became a ‘spin out’ company two years ago, giving undergraduates and postgraduates the chance to work on ‘real world projects’ and be paid at the same time. It takes on between 60 and 70 projects a year, offering around 120 ‘learning opportunities’, including everything from high-end coding to shooting and producing video.

Simon added: “The message is that the University of Bradford gives you the opportunity to work on real world projects that make a difference to people’s lives, now more than ever. What we have done with these three initial projects is to make existing services much more user friendly at a time when it is needed most.”

Alastair Wood, associate dean of external relations at the Faculty of Engineering & Informatics, said: “This is another great example of ‘Making Knowledge Work’, the University’s motto, and in particular is a testament to the sector-relevance of the Faculty’s degree programmes and to the ability of our well-grounded students to engage rapidly and effectively to deliver real-world solutions to real-word problems that benefit health and well-being and the wider community.”

The three projects are just part of the University of Bradford’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. So far, the university has donated PPE and ethanol to local hospitals and care homes, offered its cutting edge laboratory facilities to help with the production of ventilators and is offering ‘webinars’ for midwives.

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