Students help with NHS digital innovation in Torbay

Joseph Bulmer

Two postgraduate students from Plymouth University are currently working on digital innovation projects with clinicians from Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust (TSDFT) to help improve services for patients.

Summer Ashbury and Kyra Boyle are developing new interactive technology to help with patient rehabilitation and to help reduce anxiety for younger people accessing healthcare services.

Kyra’s project involves developing a virtual reality tool and app to help alleviate anxiety young people who are in crisis. She says of her placement: “The technology I am working on will help adolescents who have presented at a hospital during a time of crisis and then return for follow up appointments and need to navigate around the building, which can be daunting.

“By using this virtual technology, they will familiarise themselves with routes around the hospital and have access to tools, such as a 360-degree ward walk through and an avatar to help direct them and their families. This should help lower anxiety levels. If they are feeling overwhelmed and need to take time out, they will also be guided to a breakout area.”

Summer’s placement will help support people with their rehabilitation following their time in intensive care and she says: “My project involves working with a clinician, who supports patients in intensive care.

“I am working with recovery groups to gain insight into how immersive virtual reality experiences can provide an escape for patients from a traditionally clinical environment.

“It is amazing to have this opportunity which could make such a positive difference to people’s lives. I am also developing new skills and meeting professionals from lots of different from teams across the organisation, which all helps with my learning.”

Both internships are part of TSDFT’s Digital Futures Programme, a new and innovative programme being developed for the benefit of TSDFT patients and the wider community.

It is jointly being led by Nick Peres, Head of Digital Technologies at TSDFT and Advisor for Immersive Technologies at Health Education England; and Miss Jacqueline Rees-Lee, Consultant Plastic and Oncoplastic Breast Surgeon, and Director of Medical Education at TSDFT.