MyRoutine app reduces kids' doctor visit anxiety

By Aditi Pai

MyRoutineVisiting the doctor might be a daunting experience for kids who aren't yet used to the process, especially those with a developmental delay.

To address this concern, the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee created an iPad app, MyRoutine, to show children what a doctor's office visit generally looks like as well as other daily routines. Parents and providers can use the app to create storyboards centered around bedtime, craft time, a doctor visit and more. Within the storyboard, the creator, parent or provider, adds tasks with pictures and optional voice overs. When that's done, he or she just has to hit play. The app comes with a photo gallery of children going through a routine check-up at the doctor's office for the doctor or parent to customize.

The Center for Child Development at Vanderbilt, which primarily sees children ages 18 months to 14 years, plans to use the app in clinic for patient appointments.

“The app has been designed keeping children with special needs in mind, but even typically developing children could benefit from this,” Niru Madduri, M.D., clinical director for the Center for Child Development told Vanderbilt's official news outlet. “A lot of these children respond to using the iPad. It’s made an impact on how they learn skills. When children know they get something out of it, they are more likely to complete the tasks.”

MyRoutine is an upgrade from the center's current visual aid, a hardcopy storyboard filled with photos and words that offer a short narrative for patients about a clinic visit from checking in to the end of the doctor's visit.

Behavior Consultant in Children’s Hospital’s Center for Child Development David Crnobori, M.S.Ed. found, "children, especially those with developing language skills, tend to be visual learners."

Since implementing the hardcopy storyboard, Crnobori has seen a "decrease in patient anxiety," which "has allowed for more effective evaluations and has created a more pleasant experience for the patients and their families.”

Other children's hospitals have also experimented with apps that offer patients and their families a more interactive experience. In June, Boston Children's Hospital finished a pilot for a new app, MyPassport which increases parents’ interaction with the care delivery system in several different ways like helping patients and parents keep track of all the people involved in a child’s care. The app also includes a care plan, that tells the patient or parent exactly what benchmarks the patient needs to meet before being discharged.