I was very pleased to attend the University of Nottingham’s 2022 Volunteer Award event last night.
I had nominated Marko Voß for his continuous efforts creating the HealthScout during the Covid-19 pandemic, and was thrilled that the award judging panel agreed with me and awarded him Community Volunteer of the Year.
In March 2020 University of Nottingham (UoN) colleagues wanted to commission the development of an app to monitor health changes during the pandemic.
Unfortunately, all research fund spending was blocked. An international hackathon met in April 2020, creating solutions to problems arising due to Covid-19.
I joined as a research scientist and Marko, a German developer, was assigned to help with my request to develop a study app.
Marko led a team of international developers who were on furlough in their respective countries but worked continuously for weeks developing the app.
Each day we would meet online and every suggestion and request was updated on the app named ‘HealthScout’.
As the pandemic continued developers dropped out as they returned to paid work but Marko still maintained his support and development of the app even encouraging a Romanian company, YOPESO, to donate their developer’s time to the project.
Following a grant from Microsoft of Azure credits, we linked up with the University of Nottingham Mobile App Development Team and now have a research resource that belongs 100% to the University of Nottingham.
We have control over data collected, there is no software licence cost and it can be adapted for use by other studies with no risk of the app suddenly being withdrawn mid-study.
Marko continued working on the app and meeting with UoN every week to train developers until November 2021 when he finally handed over.
In December 2021 I was awarded a grant from QR Policy Support Fund to adapt HealthScout for collecting Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMS) in conjunction with Nottingham University Hospitals, which includes money for UoN development team.
Marko worked free for over 18 months, for a foreign University he had no previous connection with.
We now have an invaluable resource for future research studies and collaborations which would not have been possible without Marko’s tireless work.
Unfortunately, Marko was unable to collect the award in person last night, so I was honoured to receive it on his behalf and I look forward to officially being able to present it to Marko later in the year.