A new approach to children’s stay in hospital has been launched that will help Alder Hey improve patient care at its facility and across the NHS.
Created by Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and Alder Hey Children’s Charity in partnership with leading digital studio ustwo and designed with the help of young patients, the Alder Play app is powered by the very latest digital and cognitive advances. It has been supported by NHS England and NHS Digital and has great potential to help other hospitals across the NHS.
The app uses gaming and augmented reality to distract patients having procedures in hospital. Young patients choose and name their own avatar which will help them understand their hospital visit before they arrive and help calm them during their stay. Their avatar ‘pops up’ at various hospital locations during their visit and helps patients collect ‘rewards’ following procedures that allows them to access new content.
Within Alder Play, parents will also be able to interact with a chatbot called “Ask Oli” to ask questions about the hospital and what may happen to their child. Alder Hey has been working with the Hartree Centre (part of the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council and supported by IBM), using IBM’s Watson technology to enable questions to be answered in real time. This will be the first time cognitive technologies have been applied in any hospital in the UK, in this way.
Alder Hey Consultant Nik Barnes, who originated the idea of Alder Play, explained: “Our vision is to transform the experience of children in hospital. We wanted to distract patients during procedures, and reduce their worries and fears. Rewarding children following procedures and treatments was another vital element as it helps to encourage their progress. Rewards can be given for something as simple as having a dressing changed, to getting out of bed after an operation or having a scan.”
The Alder Hey app is being supported through the global digital exemplar programme with funding being provided by Alder Hey Children’s Charity, Shop Direct, Liverpool John Lennon Airport and NHS England. The Alder Play app has only been possible through a collaboration of expertise from the health, retail, travel and technology sectors.