The Hospital Hero app helps reduce anxiety and tension in children

The free app has been guiding children aged 4 to 10 in a fun and playful way since 2021

Reduction of anxiety and tension in children undergoing medical treatment. For this purpose, Nicole Donkel (pediatric nurse at the Willem-Alexander Children’s Hospital (WAKZ)) and Charlotte Poot (PhD student at the National eHealth Living Lab) created the Hospital Hero Foundation. The foundation now stands on its own two feet and has successfully launched its own app. The Hospital Hero app of the same name is even so successful that it can also be used in other hospitals. The enthusiasm for this is great.

The Hospital Hero app was conceived by Nicole Donkel and Veronique van Noort, two pediatric nurses from WAKZ, the children’s hospital of the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC). Since 2021, the free app has guided children aged 4 to 10 in a fun and playful way before, during and after their care trip in WAKZ. In the app, for example, they can already practice an action at home with the animal of their choice, such as measuring and weighing. Once you’re in the hospital, the app offers a lot of distraction. Children can search for virtual animals by scanning QR codes. These are stored in different rooms in the outpatient clinic.

Tailored for any hospital
“When we set up the Hospital Hero Fund, we immediately set ourselves the goal of developing an app that can be used by different hospitals. We find that the app really makes a difference to our young patients’ hospital experience. We are very happy that we can support an even larger group of patients with the rollout in other homes.” says Donkel.

Since June this year, Juliana Children’s Hospital in The Hague has been affiliated as an experimental hospital. “We’ve been able to tackle minor technical challenges with this, which means our app is now ready for wider rollout,” adds Poot.

Hospitals that also want to use the app can register with Hospital Hero. “During an admissions interview, together with the department, we look at how the hospital trip looks for children and what investigations or actions take place. Then we set up the app so that it really focuses on the hospital itself,” explains Poot. “This means that, among other things, we use images of the hospital’s treatment and waiting room and treat the hospital’s mascot in the app. It takes no extra time for the care staff themselves, just a healthy dose of enthusiasm.”

Good connection to childcare trips for children
An important difference with similar measures is that the entire care journey for the child is central in the Hospital Hero app. “We don’t just look at the moment the child sits in the treatment chair, but also at all the moments around it: before, during and after. Because if we look at how tense children and their parents come in, we think we can limit some of the tension there,’ explains Donkel.

The app was partially realized thanks to a donation to the ‘Smile’ project from the Children’s Hospitals of Oranje Foundation.

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Hospital Hero app from WAKZ also for other hospitals
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