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Award winning app for plaster cast patients

Two students wearing scrubs and face masks. One of them is holding a roll of plaster cast QR codes.
Display table showing plaster casts and the plaster cast QR code stickers

In October 2021, Charlene Brown and Ben Gracey, Plaster Technicians at Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust were presented with a national Nursing Times Award at a prestigious event in London hosted by BBC Breakfast’s Naga Munchetty and His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. The award was for the use of Technology and Data in Nursing and related to their innovative development of a mobile app, accessed via a QR code embedded in a patient’s plaster.  

The award was given in recognition of Charlene and Ben’s quick response to patient empowerment and aftercare, by designing a mobile app for plaster cast patients to access as part of their treatment journey. Patients are able to view information, pictures, and videos that help them to better understand their plaster and how to look after it. Built up from years of experience in dealing with patient aftercare of plasters, the team were able to address all the regular problems a patient might encounter and provide targeted advice and guidance. 

Charlene and Ben worked with Ahmed Sher Malik and Anna Laurika, two University of Bradford media and computing graduates assigned to the project by the Working Academy scheme. Charlene and Ben also worked with Joran and his supervisor Dr Takao Maruyama from the faculty of Management, Law and Social Sciences. Joran Laisina was selected by the University’s Digital Health Enterprise Zone to evaluate the impact of the technology. 

Simon Couth, Head of the Working Academy said "This PlasterRoom QR code mobile web app was a brilliant example of how collaborative working for digital health innovation can be both fun and productive. Charlene and Ben were passionate and determined to see their idea come to fruition.“ 

Professor Liz Breen, DHEZ Director commented on DHEZ’s involvement in the project “The evaluation of health improvement projects using digital solutions within the NHS provides an excellent research and teaching opportunity for our students. This project is amazingly beneficial to our patient community and the team deserved to be commended for their efforts.”  

Having the QR code on the plaster cast linked to the app resulted in an 85% reduction in visits to hospital and a 75% reduction in phone calls about casts. Charlene stated that “The early data indicates that the investment made to produce the technology will soon be offset by the savings in staffing resource.” 

This initiative also won a government Smarter Working Lives Award for best small project.  The smarter working lives celebrates innovation, collaboration and excellence. It is a platform to recognise the significant achievements made towards Smarter Working and the commitment demonstrated by individuals, teams and organisations to drive positive change. 

Exercise to improve the wellbeing of vulnerable people in Bradford

Elderly people training
elderly people training

The Digital Health Enterprise Zone are working with the Bradford Bulls Foundation to support Bradford’s vulnerable communities.

160 men and women are going through the regionally funded ‘Back Onside’ programme with the Bradford Bulls during 2021 and 2022 to help them build resilience and confidence. The 10 week fun and friendly rugby league programme aims to improve the physical health and mindsets of those taking part.

Head of Bradford Bulls Foundation, Paul Mitchell, stated: “We felt it was really important to launch Back Onside at a time when we’re not all necessarily at our peak, physically or mentally.  It provides a fun, sociable environment to encourage people get back on track, and get them enjoying exercise again while giving them the tools and techniques to continue their improvement beyond the programme.” 

Each participant, working with both the University of Bradford Psychologist Dr Ria Vaportzis and Physiotherapist Dr Lisa Edwards, is given an assessment in the  clinical space before and after the programme to find out how their physical and mental wellbeing has been affected by the programme. Participants are also being asked how the programme can be improved.

Data from the programme and interviews with Foundation Partners are being studied by the University’s research team to understand whether community-based physical interventions are effective in supporting people to feel more engaged and less isolated, and hopefully leading to increased employment opportunities for those who are unemployed. The outcomes are intended to be published in academic journals and lead to larger studies.

A big thank you to West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership. Without their fantastic support we wouldn’t have been able to make this a free programme.

New digital assessment for reviewing skin care needs

The University of Bradford’s Centre for Skin Sciences worked with Beauty Consocaire Ltd and Skin Thinking Ltd to understand whether a new digital skincare diagnostic tool, developed by Beauty Consocaire, works as well as a professional skin care grader in identifying skincare needs.

The digital tool was web-based and modelled likely skincare needs for a diverse range of skin types and was particularly directed to include all ethnicities.

To do this validation, the Centre for Skin Sciences teamed up with us, the Digital Health Enterprise Zone, to use our clinical rooms where the participants, after a gentle facial cleansing, were examined by a professional skin care grader whose score was then compared with the scores from the diagnostic tool completed by the participant. Dr Gill Westgate, Business Development Manager said “The DHEZ clinical rooms and reception area were ideal for this type of study.”

Dr Liz Breen, Director of the Digital Health Enterprise Zone said  “This study clearly demonstrates the increased adoption of technology in skin science healthcare research and treatments and is an excellent example of the research that we engage in within DHEZ”.

The Centre for Skin Sciences designed the study to compare an expert’s assessment and the tools assessment against a range of skin concerns.  Volunteers completed an online questionnaire at home, the digital skincare diagnostic tool, then attended DHEZ to see a professional skin care grader.

The study informed important updates to the algorithms of the digital tool, highlighted the potential reasons for differences in results, but very importantly showed that the online tool provides the basis for good advice on users’ skincare concerns.  

The results of the study were published in the Cosmetics and Toiletries  magazine.

Beauty Consocaire launched the App and a new product range in 2020 



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Final year Media Design & Technology student project

The Director of DHEZ spent semester two working with a group of final year students from the School of Media, Design & Technology (Faculty of Engineering & Informatics, University of Bradford) on a project connected to their study to create an animation that explains digital pathology.

Find out more about the experience >>>


Final Year (MDT) student project team

Assessing skincare needs for diverse ethnicities 

Type of Project: Evaluation project requiring local ethics approval

Project Lead: Dr Gillian Westgate, Centre for Skin Sciences, University of Bradford

Partners: Beauty Consociare Ltd 

Co-investigator: Dr Julie Thornton, Centre for Skin Sciences, University of Bradford

Expert Skincare GraderDr Katerina Steventon , Independent Skincare Consultant 

Project Summary: Beauty Consocaire Ltd has developed an algorithm-based web tool to predict an individual’s top 3 skincare needs for launch as part of a new all inclusive skin care brand - Wo. The company approached the University to design a validation study in which the results of the digital diagnostic is compared with an in person skincare assessment from an expert skin care consultant, using the facilities at the DHEZ. Study participants were selected to attend face to face examinations at the DHEZ after completing their online surveys. Respondents were female volunteers, aged between 18 and 35 with diverse ethnic backgrounds. The web tool proved to be accurate to predict skincare concerns and needs and all participants found it valuable to take part. 


Development of digital health platforms for processing patient data

Type of Project: Research and Development PhD project (AI & Visual computing)

Project Lead: Prof. Rami Qahwaji and Dr. Ci Lei in collaboration with the NHS (Dr Tom Lawton, Head of Clinical Artificial Intelligence at Bradford Teaching Hospitals).

Project Summary: There have been considerable advances in AI, visual computing, Internet of Things (IoT) and wearable sensors in recent years, and the arrival of the 5G wireless spectrum will provide the capacity for new sensor platforms and devices to capture and share data reliably between devices and healthcare providers. Relying more on technology and automated systems has become the norm, the medical and health industry is no exception. To help with the prediction of patient mortality and stability within the ICU (intensive care unit), clinical support systems are utilized. Having access to patient data can help with the correct distribution of resources. One major element that needs to be considered is that in clinical settings, systems that are being used are limited in terms of their predictive value. This project aims to develop a new digital healthcare system, which would be designed to exploit recent advances in computing and communication technologies and will build on its collaboration with the NHS, to deliver a new digital health platform for processing patients’ data using advanced medical imaging and machine learning techniques.

Project Aims: We are looking into developing an algorithm that can help predict patient mortality in the ICU with the help of artificial intelligence and visualisation. We plan to achieve this by using features that have a direct relationship with patient mortality as well as creating a separate system to help distinguish trends in data. For this project, live patient data from Bradford Royal Infirmary will be used. Visualising live data provides benefits that can activate faster decision makings, incorporate emerging trends, recognize connections between results & operations as well as the ability to interact with the data.

For further information please contact:

Researcher: Nima Donyanavard, e-mail:


Interprofessional Practice – Dementia Scenario

Project Lead – Dr Jae Hargan and Service User and Carer Involvement Group

Project Partners – University of Bradford staff: Dr Melissa Owens, Helen Cook, Cathy Clarke, Hilary Pape, Jamie Beck, Jean Gallagher, Lindsay Hobbs, Clare Mason, Vicky Milburn

Project Summary: To enable health and social care students to identify how their individual professional roles and interprofessional partnership working can influence the quality of care and outcomes for a person with dementia and their carer in a crisis.

Computer vision for diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease

Type of Project: Research and Development

Project Lead: Professor Rami Qahwaji

Project Summary: Prof Rami Qahwaji, Prof Raed Abd-Alhameed, Dr John Buckley, Dr Amr Rashad Abdullatif and Eng Ramzi Jaber (Funded PhD Studentship).

Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease, with a lifetime risk of around 2% [Ascherio and Schwarzschild, 2016], and causes muscle rigidity, tremors, and changes in movement and gait. There are 127,000 people diagnosed with Parkinson’s in the UK, the prevalence rising with an ageing population. Neurologists depend on observation of the patients to make clinical decisions about diagnosis, disease monitoring and treatment [Clarke et al., 2016]. However, visual observation is highly subjective and depends mainly on the clinician’s experience. Moreover, small or subtle changes in movement patterns and gait, which could be early signs of Parkinson’s disease, are usually missed by clinicians.

Bradykinesia is one of the cardinal symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease. Typically characterised as a movement disorder, bradykinesia can be represented according to the degree of motor impairment. The inability to initiate movement effectively can stem from a combination of slowness of voluntary and involuntary or delayed movement. Parkinson’s disease (PD) can further cause tremors and stiffness which must also be considered in clinically assessing the degree of motor impairment. The assessment criteria for PD is therefore well defined due to the symptomatic nature associated with Parkinson’s. In the early stages of Parkinson’s irregularities in movement may be mild.

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