Our Vision for Alder Hey in the Park
As the first paediatric hospital in Europe to be built in a park, we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to combine the impact of nature and the environment with improved health and wellbeing.
An interactive ‘Woodland Walk’ has been created and in partnership with the Lancashire Wildlife Trust, a Forest Schools initiative was launched in 2017. This involves local primary schools using Springfield Park to train as Forest School leads. Other exciting ventures include plans to start an edible planting scheme using community growing areas, while a number of successful events have taken place including an arts and crafts fair and bluebell wood planting.
Our vision is to be a global driving force in children’s healthcare innovation, by creating the world’s first living hospital.
Alder Hey wants to harness the power of gaming technology, new sensor technology, nano technology and cognitive computing to create a truly digital, living hospital that can sense and ‘feel’ what is happening in it and act accordingly.
A Living Alder Hey
To be a living hospital Alder Hey needs to use digital technology to think, sense and care for patients. If we see Alder Hey as a living being or a person, rather than bricks and mortar, there are three main areas where this technology can help it fill its potential for the best patient care.
The UK’s first cognitive hospital
We are working with the UK’s most advanced cognitive computing centre, The Hartree Centre, at Daresbury to see how the vast amount of raw data that is produced by the hospital can be harnessed for diagnostic purposes. This could provide massive archives of information and develop networks that can predict pathways of diseases. It can link clinical information with individual and personal information to provide an overview that helps to plot the whole patient journey.
Sensing what is happening
Liverpool is already a leading region in the development of sensor technology. Sensor technology can be a major force in improving healthcare outcomes and improving experiences for patients but the opportunities it provides are largely unexploited by the health service. Sensor technology allows clinicians to monitor patients on an ongoing basis both in the hospital and when they are back in their own homes. There are huge advantages to this including being able to react to any changes to a patient’s condition immediately, removes the needs for patients to stay in hospital for prolonged periods and provides vital data to better understand medical conditions.
Sensor technology can also remove the need for invasive techniques – for example a sensor on the skin replacing the need for a blood test or a sensor wirelessly transmitting to a machine so that a child is not surrounded by wires.
We are working with experts in the application and gaming industry to make our children less scared when they come into hospital. We know that our patient’s experience of hospital is hugely important in helping their recovery, especially as many of our children and young people have conditions that mean they may visit us over several years.
We want our patients to be able to make a virtual child-friendly visit to the hospital and explore facilities like the MRI scanner, theatres, their bedrooms and the park itself so that they are familiar with Alder Hey before they arrive. In addition we want to allow them to create their own characters or avatars that they can ask questions to using speech or text. These avatars can be activated at specific points in the hospital too.
Specially designed applications will give them the opportunity to upload personal information through a secure link so staff know about them as individuals, e.g. their family, pets, likes and dislikes before they attend. This not only helps children to feel more relaxed but helps the clinician to develop a trusted relationship with their patient more quickly and helps treatment to be less stressful and quicker.
We know that distraction makes children much more able to cope with treatment and reduces their levels of distress. It has also been shown to reduce the need for general anaesthetic, sedation and pain relief and so we want to be able to offer this to our patients across the hospital.
We are working with the gaming industry to create immersive distraction techniques that are suitable for patient’s age, preferences, likes and dislikes.
By linking personal information with clinical information we can provide games and other digital distractions with help with their treatment; from films to calm and soothe them to games that help them to understand their illness, take control, virtually fight cancer cells and help them to explain what is happening to family and friends.