okee_appThe Royal Children`s Hospital Melburne has launched a world-first app for children that will help reduce anxiety and the need for anaesthesia during medical imaging procedures.

The free, game-based app, named Okee in Medical Imaging, helps children aged four to eight years prepare for all medical imaging procedures, including X-ray, CT, MRI, ultrasound, nuclear medicine and fluoroscopy.

The app is designed to reduce anticipatory fear of imaging procedures, while helping to ensure children attend imaging appointments equipped with the skills required for efficient and effective scans to be performed.

Royal Children`s Hospital (RCH) Educational Play Therapist, Siobhan Greene, who has worked with patients and families in the RCH Medical Imaging department, said research showed children who were prepared for their procedures coped better.

“Medical imaging procedures often require children to perform simple skills such as holding their breath, keeping still or drinking a special fluid called contrast,” Siobhan said.

“By encouraging children to practice these skills with their families at home using a fun and engaging app, we can improve the patient’s experience when they arrive at hospital,” she said.

The RCH Medical Imaging department performs over 84,000 scans each year.

Fiona Ramanauskas, RCH Medical Imaging Technologist, said she expects the app will significantly reduce procedural anxiety and bolster the support patients and families receive from the department’s one dedicated play therapist.

“When children are not well prepared for an imaging procedure, they can become anxious and non-compliant. This means images take longer to obtain and can result in the need for sedation or for the examination to be cancelled. This can be frustrating for the patient and their family, and delays clinicians who require the results of the scans before they can administer treatment,” Fiona said.

“The app aims to help families feel more comfortable and confident about the medical imaging experience. Clinical care will be improved by reducing delays, reducing sedation and general anaesthesia, and enhancing the quality of the images obtained thanks to children’s increased ability to keep still and calm,” she said.

The app is underwater themed, in keeping with the wayfinding artwork within the RCH Medical Imaging department. Main character, octopus Okee, and his sea creature friends introduce children to the various medical imaging modalities via entertaining and informative games. The app also features preparation videos, photos of the Medical Imaging department and descriptions of the procedures, tailored for parents.

More information about this app and download for Apple and Android http://www.rch.org.au/okee/