An augmented reality app could help reduce stress for more than two million children admitted to hospital every year.
Dom Raban, MD of Corporation Pop, has been creating ‘stuff’ for nearly 40 years, from punk fanzines in the 1970s to content for emerging technology platforms today.
According to research, reducing stress and anxiety about treatment and surroundings can lead to quicker recovery and improved clinical outcomes.
The Patient’s Virtual Guide uses an avatar to help the child through the system. Using gamification, augmented reality and artificial intelligence the app is intended to be a “friendly ally” to help demystify the process.
He was inspired by his daughter’s experiences in the healthcare system after she was diagnosed with cancer at 13.
Working with the NHS, Raban stresses the importance of creating meaningful content for VR and AR.
“This technology has now been around a long time, what’s happened recently is that we’ve now got that allow people to experience them,” he told BusinessCloud’s AR/VR conference in Manchester last week.
“There’s a lot of hardware, but there’s very little meaningful content. The content has to be meaningful, it has to do something.
“My personal interest is in the healthcare sector, primarily. I’m arguably more interested in augmented reality than I am in virtual reality.
“Five years ago, coming up to six years ago, my daughter, who was 13 at the time, was diagnosed with cancer.
“Her journey through the healthcare system was characterised by two polar extremes. On the one hand she had the most fantastic clinical care, which is the reason she’s doing her A-levels now, is off to university in the autumn, and is fit and well.
“But on the other hand she had virtually no information about the environment she was going to go into, the people she was going to meet and the technology she was going to experience.”
Raban has been working on The Patient’s Virtual Guide for around two years, and was recently awarded £50,000 funding from the Nominet Trust.
“What we’re doing at the moment, we’re working quite closely with the NHS, is we’re building a mobile application that puts the child in control of that journey through the health system by giving them experiences that inform them about what’s going to happen and the environment they’re going to go into.
He added: “For example in the NHS, cannulation, which is inserting a needle into a vein, is a really tricky procedure on children. It’s often performed wrong and children can get very scared about that.
“We’re providing a system that allows a child to play with that cannula in their arm before they actually experience it.
“And there’s hard evidence that says if you can reduce the fear and anxiety of a procedure, then clinical outcomes are better.”