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My Oxehealth Internship by Andy Sayer

Andy Sayer, Research Intern Summer 2018
My name is Andy Sayer and in the summer of 2018, I joined Oxehealth for three months as part of the algorithms team. Before my internship, I was a PhD student in the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge, where I studied the ways in which algae are able to acquire vitamins - a process with important consequences for global carbon fixation and biotechnology. During my PhD project, I was increasingly enjoying using programming (R) for data and statistical analysis, as well as bioinformatical techniques to identify genes of interest. I decided I wanted to do an internship with a data science focus, as this would develop the skills I already had in R in a business environment and allow me the opportunity to develop new skills, such as python, machine learning, and a more thorough mathematical background. 

I applied to Oxehealth after meeting employees of the company at a careers fair. I got the impression that interns were a valued part of the company and were given projects that had real consequences, which was not necessarily true of other companies I spoke to. I felt that working at Oxehealth would be a good fit for me, giving me the best opportunity to develop professionally in an area that was worthwhile. After formally applying and going through the interview process, I was delighted to be offered an internship within the algorithms team! 

The algorithms team are responsible for the development of technology to improve patient care; primarily this is through implementing algorithms to extract pulse rate and breathing rate estimates from video data, as well as other statistics, such as movement and positional information. These features can then be combined to obtain a sophisticated view of a patient in a room and provide pertinent information to nurses, for example, raising an alert if a patient is about to get of bed and may need extra assistance.

Within the first week of starting my internship, I was given responsibility for a project, trusted to meet clients to understand their needs of the system, and to feed this back into the relevant teams. This echoed my initial impressions of Oxehealth from the careers fair as a company that values their interns and gives them consequential projects to work on. The first project I worked on was to improve the visualisation of data collected from patient rooms, ensuring relevant information was being provided to nurses and clinicians in an easily understandable way. For this I made use of a number of different tools: SQL to obtain the data, python for data processing, and R for data visualisation. Despite being a contrast from the work I did during my PhD, I found I was able to get up to speed quickly and I enjoyed the iterative process of improving the product based on customer feedback.  

Subsequently, I invested time learning how to use python in more depth and wrote tools for the team to import and clean sleep laboratory datasets, making use of libraries such as numpy and pandas. I really valued the opportunity to develop new skills, and having the support of my colleagues made this process easier and more enjoyable. I wrote a program to model different stages of sleep using machine learning techniques, based on features such as pulse rate, breathing rate, and movement. In addition to learning how to run the models, I learnt how to pre-process data, perform effective cross validation, and assess the quality of the resulting models. Ultimately, I compared different types of classification model to see which ones modelled the dataset best.  The team are now applying this model to their research. 

I joined Oxehealth at a time of rapid growth; at the beginning of the year a single room was live, however, by the time I left there were over 200 rooms contracted, providing valuable information to clients. I found working during this period to be invigorating due to the fast pace of development and problem solving required from people throughout the company. There is a positive company culture at Oxehealth with a commitment of employees to overcome obstacles, but at the same time have fun and enjoy their time at work! This culture extended to other activities such as a highly contested table football league, playing squash with colleagues in the evenings, and take-away Tuesdays - which all made my experience even richer! 

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Oxehealth and would not hesitate to recommend it to others as a brilliant place to work.