Victoria University of Wellington software engineering student creates healthcare app

Software Engineering student Mansour Javaher has developed a mobile app that provides guidance to doctors on prescribing antibiotics.

Mansour Javaher
Mansour Javaher shows his Empiric app to students in the Faculty of Health

Mansour worked with Capital and Coast District Health Board (CCDHB) and Wellington Hospital to develop the Empiric app. It takes users—usually doctors—through a series of questions to produce a personalised prescription recommendation for patients, taking into account patient allergies, risk of multi-drug resistant organisms, and dosage calculators for certain antibiotics.

Mansour worked with the Infection Services team at CCDHB, particularly Dr Olivia Bupha-Intr and Dr Michelle Balm, on the project, initially as a Summer Research Scholar and then during his Honours year. He began work on the project in November 2017, and the team managed to deploy a working version of the app in May 2018. Since then, the app has been downloaded by over 700 people, and won the Innovative Use of Technology Award at the 2018 CCDHB Celebrating Success Awards.

“This project was extremely interesting to me because I could use my knowledge to help doctors and improve medical care,” Mansour says. “Helping the healthcare industry is very motivating for me, and it’s much more aligned with my personal and career goals than some more traditional IT work.”

The Empiric project provided several exciting challenges, Mansour says.

“This project was not just about sitting at a computer and writing code,” he says. “There was no team involved on my end of the project, so I had to gather all the information and develop the code on my own. I had to develop my professional and leadership skills to work with the CCDHB team so we could get the best possible results. I was lucky enough to participate in the Victoria University of Wellington Leadership Programme during my degree, which I think really helped me develop those skills.”

Mansour says he is grateful for the opportunity to work with the Wellington Hospital and CCDHB staff.

“We worked hard and tested the app extensively to be able to release it at the right time,” Mansour says. “Without the help of the staff I would have found this project impossible.”

Mansour has since finished his Bachelor of Engineering with Honours degree and is working in software engineering, but he continues to work with Wellington Hospital and the CCDHB to maintain the Empiric app.

The final evaluation of the Empiric app by the CCDHB and the Hospital called it a “major success”, saying the app made prescribing antibiotics much easier and more accurate. Mansour developed an analytics platform for Empiric to help gather information about how the app is used and how many users access the app, and the final evaluation said this analytics platform was both easy to use and visually appealing, and that Mansour’s knowledge and skills were very valuable.

Mansour came to New Zealand and began his software engineering studies at Victoria University of Wellington in 2015.

“I didn’t know much English, but the University and the staff were extremely helpful throughout my studies,” Mansour says. “I’m still grateful for their help to this day.”

“I’m really excited to have gained my degree, especially because it is recognised by the Institute of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ) and so will be valuable to me all around the world,” Mansour says. “Working at different companies as a consultant will help me learn how different companies manage their resources, what strategies they use, and how they solve common problems.”