A doctor who has developed an app to help reduce anxiety in children undergoing surgery has raised £1.5 million from NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance.

Dr Chris Evans, an anaesthetist working with children and a father himself, joined forces with product designer Sophie Copley to launch Little Journey. 

The app enables patients to take virtual tours of the hospital, with interactive animations explaining what will happen and who they will meet at each stage of their hospital journey. 

It also includes games, relaxation guides and information for parents.

Little Journey

Little Journey

Little Journey has been shown to reduce anxiety by 30% in high-risk patients such as those with autism or ADHD, reduce the number of operations cancelled on the day by 42% and improve recovery times by 30%. It is currently being used in over 50 hospitals worldwide. 

The Leeds-based company recently won a contract with one of the world’s largest clinical research organisations, which is planning on using Little Journey to support participants in a complex, international paediatric clinical trial.

The funding will help the business expand its team with the creation of 12 new jobs, further develop its technology and drive uptake in the UK and overseas. As part of the investment, the company has appointed Dr Nicolaus Henke, former leader of McKinsey’s global healthcare practice, as chair.

“As a doctor, I have witnessed first-hand the anxiety and distress experienced by children and their families before, during and after healthcare procedures,” said Dr Evans.

My experience in A&E made me a better founder

“Many have to be sedated before a general anaesthetic, even though this tends to delay their recovery. It occurred to me that by using a fun video game format, we could engage these patients, help them prepare for their hospital visit and calm their fears.

“The investment will help us to further enhance the platform to improve patient experience, create more personalised solutions and expand our team to support our internationalisation and rapid growth.”

Rob Bennett, investment associate at Mercia, added: “Little Journey has already had a major impact on mental and physical health outcomes for thousands of children and parents. 

Chris and Sophie have made great progress in commercialising the product to date. This investment will support them in their aim of transforming the experiences of young patients and their families on a global scale.”

The key to commercialising a medical device