Case Study - Leeds University

Android Mobile Phone App For The NHS

The Nutritional Epidemiology Group is part of the School of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Leeds, with a reputation for interdisciplinary excellence in linking nutrition, obesity and population health.

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Agile Platform

The Requirements

The Nutritional Epidemiology Group successfully secured a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) grant to investigate the use of mobile phone technology to help people lose weight.  It was proposed that a mobile phone could be a key tool for delivering a weight loss intervention programme, given its potential to communicate with a wide range of individuals.

The Group contacted Blueberry Consultants as it required proven software expertise in mobile technology and database systems to help instigate the study plan, which consisted of three parts:

  • Development Phase
    A suitable intervention package needed to be developed from an existing dietary analysis database, using an iterative process of user testing and making improvements based on feedback.
  • Validation Trial
    The system would next be validated against a gold standard method of assessing diet and physical activity to ensure that the food and activity data captured was accurate.
  • Pilot Trial
    The intervention package would be tested in a 6 month trial with 135 volunteers from a range of large employers within Leeds.

Our Solution

Blueberry’s solution to the project consisted of two parts:

Blueberry created the ‘My Meal Mate’ Android mobile phone application which provides users with:

  • A database of 35,000 common food items, which allows the user to record what was eaten throughout the day in a food diary.
  • “Photo mode” where the user can use the phone camera to take a photo of a meal as a reminder for completing the food diary.
  • “Favourites” feature to store common meals to make data entry easier.
  • Exercise entry to log calories used during the users’ daily exercise.
  • Target weight loss settings, with limits to prevent unhealthy rates of weight loss
  • Progress tracking and graphing.
  • Upload of diary entries to a reporting website.
  • Text message feedback based on the user meeting targets and completing the diary.

Blueberry also created a reporting website using ASP.NET and the Agile Platform tool, where:

  • Details of all diary data entered can be uploaded and viewed.
  • Reports can be generated for common views such as Average Consumption and Daily Upload Analysis.
  • Daily export of data can be performed for further statistical analysis.

The Results

The My Meal Mate project was completed on schedule and within budget.

The mobile application designed by Blueberry provides Leeds University and the Nutritional Epidemiology Group with a number of commercial advantages over existing phone applications. These include the benefit of customised features – such as the ability to upload data to a website for further analysis – as well as the long-term advantage of the client retaining the IP of the program.

In addition to providing software expertise to the Nutritional Epidemiology Group, Blueberry also played a strong technical consultancy role within the Group – in particular with selecting the most appropriate phones for the project; generating custom reports, and producing the specialised reporting website.

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