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Health app reducing anxiety in children before hospital procedures

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A health modification tool designed to help reduce children’s anxiety before a healthcare procedure is being showcased on the ABHI UK Pavilion at Arab Health 2022. Health Tech World’s Arab Health correspondent Julia Price speaks with platform founder Dr Chris Evans.

Little Journey is an eSupport platform designed to psychological prepare and support children and their families as they prepare to undergo healthcare procedures.

The platform consists of a smartphone app that delivers multi-faceted preparation and support for children and their parents. As well as a web-based hospital portal that enables healthcare and research organisations to configure the app to their own local patient pathways and trial protocols.

From familiarisation through interactive games, desensitisation using virtual reality tours to coping skills education via child narrated animations, the platform has been developed to engage and empower families in their care.

Little Journey founder Dr Chris Evans, an NHS doctor and researcher, said the platform is suitable for use as part of routine care and for supporting those participating in clinical trials.

”We are delighted to be joining the ABHI UK Pavilion at Arab Health 2022 to showcase our revolutionary platform which has been designed to transform healthcare outcomes through enhanced patient engagement and experience.

“Our aim is to support and empower patients and their families through engaging and interactive content to reduce the stress and anxiety of coming to hospital.

“We look forward to meeting new partners and sharing how our unique platform can be employed for the benefit of patients globally.”

Pre-operative anxiety is common, affecting 50-75 per cent of children, and is the leading complaint in adults before surgery. This anxiety is associated with worse physical and mental outcomes, as well as adverse financial implications for healthcare organisations.

Fifty per cent of children develop negative post-hospital behavioural changes such as bedwetting, separation anxiety and nightmares at two weeks after an operation, which are ongoing in 8 per cent at one year.

Research has shown that psychological preparation reduces anxiety but is time-consuming and costly to perform. Currently, patients are supported through single face-to-face pre-procedure interactions and/or paper information leaflets.

In 2021, Little Journey was appointed onto the NHS Innovation Accelerator to support its adoption across the NHS.

The platform is configured to more than 50 NHS hospitals and platform founders say it has led to a 30 per cent anxiety reduction, 42 per cent lower on-the-day cancellation and 30 per cent faster recovery.

During the pandemic, Little Journey worked with NHS staff, children and parents to create educational animations and materials to teach children about the COVID-19 swab test, how to prepare themselves and what to expect.

The project and outputs were funded by NHS England and supported by Test and Trace and Public Health England.

Paul Benton, managing director, International at the ABHI said: “We are delighted to be showcasing Little Journey on the ABHI UK Pavilion to help expand and bring the benefits of this innovative technology to more patients globally.

“The pandemic has led to a heightened state of stress and anxiety, including around visiting the hospital, and the platform is an innovative way to help improve outcomes and support patients on their journey.”

Arab Health 2022 is taking place from January 24 – 27 2022 at the Dubai World Trade Centre. Throughout the show, Little Journey will be located on the ABHI UK Pavilion – Hall two H50B.

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