Revolutionary children's hospital app to transform patient care

7 December 2017

Alder Hey Children’s hospital

Alder Hey Children’s hospital
(Credit: Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust)

A new approach to children’s stay in hospital has been launched that will revolutionise patient care at Alder Hey Children’s hospital in Liverpool partly thanks to expert support from STFC’s Hartree Centre.

Created by Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and Alder Hey Children’s Charity and designed with the help of young patients, the Alder Play app is powered by the very latest digital and cognitive advances. It is supported by NHS England who plan to roll it out 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 STFC 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 to any hospital, anywhere, in this way.

Michael Gleaves, who is Deputy Director of the Hartree Centre and led their team on this project, said “This was a great opportunity for the Hartree Centre to apply our expertise in cognitive technologies to real world problems.  We are helping patients and their families reduce their overall anxiety when in hospital.”

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.”

Media contact

Jake Gilmore, STFC Media Manager
Tel: 07970 994586

Notes to Editor

You can read more about the project here.

The Alder Hey app is being supported by NHS England through its global digital excellence 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.

The Alder Play app is available for iPhone and Android via your app store.

About Alder Hey

Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust provides care for over 275,000 children and young people every year. Alder Hey delivers clinical excellence for all children, for routine illnesses as well as very complex and rare conditions.

One of four stand-alone children’s hospitals in the UK, it is a national centre for neuro and craniofacial surgery, a regional centre for burns injuries and a Centre of Excellence for children with cancer, heart, spinal and brain disease. The Trust is one of only four epilepsy surgical centres in the UK and one of only two accredited major trauma centres in the North West. Alder Hey is also a respiratory Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) surge centre and is the referral centre for the treatment of congenital heart defects in North West England, North Wales and Isle of Man. It became the first UK Centre of Excellence for Childhood Lupus in 2010.

For more information visit Alder Hey and Alder Hey Children's Charity.

The Hartree Centre

The Hartree Centre is transforming UK industry by accelerating the adoption of high performance computing, big data analytics and cognitive technologies. Set up in 2013 and underpinned by over £170M of funding from the UK Government, the centre is part of the Science and Technology Facilities Council and is located at Sci-Tech Daresbury in Cheshire.
Twitter: @hartreecentre

Science and Technology Facilities Council Switchboard: 01793 442000