Special Mention Award Winner Michael Bryan on his New App to Help Diagnose COVID-193rd April 2020
The sixth Annual Unsung Hero Awards held this year saw an 18-year-old Michael Bryan from the Royal Bournemouth & Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust take home the Special Mention Award for his App ‘FaceX’. Inspired by some of the guests he met at the awards, Michael then went on to work on another ground-breaking App that could help test for COVID-19.
Michael was voted for by the attendees of the Awards Ceremony for his contributions to Technological Advances in the NHS with his app FaceX, designed to diagnose Parkinson’s Disease through face scanning technology.
For those who are unfamiliar with Michael’s story, he was inspired to create the potentially life-changing App when his father passed away from Parkinson’s when Michael was eight years old. Through volunteering at the nursing home where his father spent the last year of his life, Michael recognised something in the patients that he also saw in his father: whenever they would go to laugh or smile, it’d appear distant. Michael researched and realised he could create an algorithm that would use a database of facial images to find traits typical of Parkinson’s and he began to develop an App that would use this as a basis for diagnosis.
This kind of forward-thinking technology could be able to change the Diagnostic Process of Parkinson’s disease, as usual diagnosis requires a doctor trained in Nervous-System-Conditions to review one’s medical history, symptoms and a neurological/physical examination. This process for Michael’s father took over a year and for Michael himself, it cost him and his family valuable time with his father that could have been spent in more comforting ways.
On the night of the Awards Michael said: “We have had the privilege to diagnose 1,200 sufferers so far.”
Since then, Michael has been working on a new project amidst the Coronavirus Pandemic – an app that uses phones’ propensity to collect data to monitor, track and triage cases of COVID-19.
Michael expanded on how this idea came to light, after attending the 2020 Unsung Hero Awards: “After hearing of the corona virus, I became worried for my mum whose immune system is particularly vulnerable following a bone marrow transplant. That’s why I reached out to several of the incredible people I met at the ceremony, including a respiratory specialist who connected me with several Professors of Respiratory Medicine at Oxford.
“With their help, I’m in the process of creating an app that uses seven indicators to diagnose COVID-19.”
Only leave your home for essentials such as food or medicine, for work, or to exercise.
When you do, you MUST #KeepYourDistance from others.
— Department of Health and Social Care (@DHSCgovuk) March 31, 2020
The seven stages that Michael’s app encompasses, to accurately diagnose cases of COVID-19, are: Medical History Input, Geolocation Data, Heart-Rate Measurements, Gyroscope Readings, Microphone Recordings, Facial recognition Scanning and Stimuli Response Times.
Michael further explained the current problem in diagnosing COVID-19 quickly, that he hopes the app could solve: “The status quo is problematic because of a limited number of testing kits, that are cost and time-intensive to use which compounds uncertainty in-turn overwhelms primary care services and risks further spreading of the illness.”
“Our app would Triage sufferers, assigning four risk-levels to relieve pressure on primary health services, measure patient deterioration, inform sufferers of the next steps and offer timely updates while collating statistics from across the UK, sharing the information with Public Health England and hospital Trusts.
“This journey began from the networks built at the UHA ceremony in February,” Michael said. “Thank you to the UHA for doing what you’re doing and bringing people from diverse healthcare backgrounds together. I hope it helps inspire even more young people to get involved in STEM.”
So far, Michael and the rest of the research team have already received approval from the Health Secretary and are currently testing COVID-19 sufferers in hospitals across the UK.
We’re very proud that we have been able to be a part of such revolutionary and pioneering research in such a historical and trying time. We salute all staff of the NHS, including Non-Clinical and Non-Medical staff and volunteers, who are also on the front-line fighting COVID-19 and keeping us all safe.
For more information on Coronavirus, including symptoms and what you can do to keep yourself safe, click here.
Lily Harrison, Freelance Writer at Unsung Hero Awards