App ‘an awesome thing to be part of’

Otago Polytechnic bachelor of information technology student Samantha Watson displays a new app...
Otago Polytechnic bachelor of information technology student Samantha Watson displays a new app she helped create, which helps young people return to life outside hospital after having cancer treatment. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Imagine a mobile phone app that acts like a passport, allowing young people with cancer to access their treatment information from anywhere in the world.

Thanks to Otago Polytechnic students, it is almost here.

The AYA Rangatahi Uruwhenua Passport app was on display in Dunedin on Saturday, as part of TEXpo — a showcase of local innovative tech research, products and technology industries — held at Otago Polytechnic and the University of Otago Business School.

The app contains personal health information, cancer diagnosis, treatment information, follow-up guidelines, information about potential late effects of treatment, tips for healthy living, and contact details for treatment team members and the Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Service.

Otago Polytechnic College of Art, Design and Architecture senior lecturer Martin Kean said the app would be most useful for adolescents and young adults who had finished cancer treatment, and perhaps wanted to travel overseas.

It aimed to help them transition to life outside hospital, he said.

"This app allows them to keep track of their health information and it keeps them in touch with health professionals wherever they are in the world."

Research and development on the passport app began when the Southern District Health Board approached the polytech for help to develop an app to meet a need identified by adolescents and young adults (AYA) living with cancer.

He said a team of Otago Polytechnic bachelor of design (communication) students created initial screen designs in the first half of 2017, and then bachelor of information technology students used those to build an Android app.

The app on display at the weekend was a working prototype and was yet to be developed to its full capacity, he said.

The final stages of development would include adding password protection.

"Our students have great experiences working on projects that benefit our local communities by prototyping innovative solutions to design problem opportunities.

"But it’s more than that. They get to see what it’s like to be making a living as a designer," he said.

Otago Polytechnic bachelor of information technology student Samantha Watson was one of six students who worked on the app.

"It’s an awesome thing to be part of.

"Kids with cancer is a pretty sucky thing, so having something they can use to store information about their condition and keep track of it is great.

"Making it digital rather than having it on a piece of paper makes it so much more accessible to young people and it’s something they won’t lose."

TEXpo was the last event of Dunedin Techweek 2018.

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