Alder Hey Children’s trust introduces new app through exemplar programme

Global digital exemplar launches new app to improve the experience of children in hospital.
By Leontina Postelnicu
11:29 am
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Hospital touchscreen.

Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust has introduced a new app that uses gaming and augmented reality in a drive to improve patient care through digital.

Children can choose and name their very own avatar which can then help them understand their hospital visit in order to keep them calm during their stay, using a ‘reward’ system after procedures that allows them to  access additional features.

Nik Barnes, Alder Hey Consultant, who came up with the idea of Alder Play, said rewards could be given for having a scan or ‘something as simple as having a dressing changed’, adding that this could be a ‘vital element’ in encouraging children make progress.

Through the app, called Alder Play, parents can talk to a chatbot called ‘Ask Oli’, which will answer questions about their children’s visit to the hospital, developed by cognitive computing experts from the Hartree Centre, IBM Watson and other partners. The trust has been working with the Hartree Centre since May 2016.

Alder Play was developed by the hospital and the Alder Hey Children’s Charity in collaboration with the ustwo digital studio, using feedback from patients, and is supported by NHS England and NHS Digital.

Professor Keith McNeil, CCIO for Health and Care, said the app is a ‘great example of innovative digital technology being applied to solve a real world problem’.

Alder Play was created through the global digital exemplar programme, with funding provided by the charity, Shop Direct, Liverpool John Lennon Airport and NHS England.

Michael Gleaves, Deputy Director of the Hartree Centre, said: “This was a great opportunity for the Hartree Centre to apply our expertise in cognitive technologies to real world problems. Helping patients and their families reduce their overall anxiety when in hospital.”

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