Alder Hey Children’s Hospital launches app to improve hospital experience

A new app has been launched at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital to help improve the healthcare experience for patients.

The Alder Play app was created by Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and Alder Hey Children’s Charity in partnership with digital studio ustwo and designed with the help of young patients.

By using gaming tools and augmented reality, the Alder Play app helps distract patients having procedures in hospital.

Young patients can create their own avatar which will give them information to help them understand their hospital stay before they visit. Patients can also collect rewards following procedures that gives them access to new content.

Parents can also use the app’s chatbot feature called “Ask Oli” to find out about the hospital and what their child will experience during their stay. Alder Hey has been working with the Hartree Centre which is using IBM’s Watson technology, allowing questions to be answered in real time.

Alder Hey consultant Nik Barnes, who developed the idea for app, 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.”

The app has been developed and designed alongside the opinions of children and young people. Alder Play’s origin starts five years ago, when seven-year-old patient Niamh Barnes suggested the idea of an app that would help distract children while they were in hospital.

About the app, Niamh said: “It’s exciting to see the app coming to life and providing entertainment for other children like me. I really like the ‘Ask Oli’ page which is really helpful and means kids and parents can ask questions about their stay in hospital.”

Professor Keith McNeil, chief clinical information officer for Health and Care at NHS England, said: “This is a great example of innovative digital technology being applied to solve a real world problem for children, young people and their parents receiving care in today’s NHS. It looks great fun too!”



Reece Armstrong is a reporter for Digital Health Age. Coming from the North East of England, Reece has an MA in Media & Journalism and a BA in Popular & Contemporary Music from Newcastle University. Reach him on Twitter or email via:

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