University of Bedfordshire launches unique healthcare app

Myhealthavatar web

University of Bedfordshire computing expert Professor Feng Dong has played a key role in a European project to build a unique healthcare phone app.

He was the project coordinator for MyHealthAvatar, which brought together nine partners from four countries to develop the technology, which allows individuals to manage their own health.

Professor of Visual Computing, he said: “It’s been a very exciting project and we are delighted to have reached our goal. Now we want as many people as possible to download the app and let us know what they think.”

The University of Bedfordshire was the leading partner in the project working alongside organisations from Germany, Greece and Hungary. The team started in March 2013 with the aim of building a patient-friendly web application together with a phone app, which could not only store long-term, personal health information, but also allow the user to analyse, predict and personalise the advice and insights they gained back.

Prof Dong said: “The University has partnered some of the organisations in previous projects so many of us knew each other. We were discussing new projects and the concept of a health avatar was brainstormed.

“Our ageing population is rising so healthcare and social welfare costs are growing too. There are apps on the market that target a specific health area like blood pressure and exercise. But MyHealthAvatar acts as a life-long record of health information which not only targets healthy individuals but also those with health conditions.

“It is a one-place service for storing health records as well as providing a wide range of healthcare tools for patients.”

The free app provides a handy place to store an individual’s medical information as well as tools allowing automatic collection of personal health data such as physical activity, calories consumed, heart rate and sleep quality.

Other tools allow analysis of personal health data, plus information on a range of conditions and health-related games as part of the app community. It can also be linked up to existing sensors on the market such as Fitbit and Withings.

Professor Dong added: “Giving individuals and patients the power to manage their own health using the latest technology is becoming increasingly important. We need to encourage people to look after themselves and the MyHealthAvatar project is a big step towards making that happen.

“It can potentially change the way we think, communicate and search for information.”

Next on the horizon for avatar technology is its use in supporting patients with cancer, as part of the iManageCancer project, which is now in its second year.

Professor Dong welcomes the opportunity to work with patient groups to trial MyHealthAvatar. He can be emailed at the University of Bedfordshire’s Department of Computer Science and Technology at Feng.Dong@beds.ac.uk

The MyHealthAvatar app is free to download on Android phones now.