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June 29, 2018

A digital-forward waiting area for Starship Hospital's CED...

Starship Children’s hospital is not a place any parent visits willingly, but most of us have spent many long hours there, waiting with our child to find out if they are okay, while the wonderful staff work their magic. Once a child is in Starship’s care, you can guarantee they won’t be sent home until the doctors are satisfied they’re out of danger – and that takes time.

Recognizing that waiting is part of every visit to Starship, the hospital has partnered with ASB  bank to come up with a solution. Now the 34,000 children who visit the emergency department each year can enjoy an interactive digital space, including 'The Starship Animal Check-ups' and 'The Magic Forest' to help distract and prepare them for treatment – the first of its kind in New Zealand.

Little Treasures’ Emily Bell, caught up with Christian May from ASB to ask him about the project.

What an amazing way to celebrate 25 years of support to the Starship Foundation. Why was this project important to you?

It’s been more than three years in the making and it’s been a joint effort. We’re grateful to the customers and ASB team who helped us raise $1million to make the upgrade a reality. The money was raised through innovative fundraising projects such as the ASB Donation Ball which was a paywave enabled rugby ball passed around fans during the Lions Rugby Series, along with ASB payroll giving.

This amazing space itself was a collaborative effort too, developed over a six-month period by Rush Digital, who in consultation with the Starship children’s emergency department staff, some young patients and with ASB, created the technology which is a New Zealand hospital first.

Why was it important to digitalise this space?

Kids love technology probably as much as ASB does so developing digital walls was a natural fit. With the plan to take away as much anxiety as possible, it was agreed the ‘Starship Animal Check-ups’ and the ‘Magic forest’ interactive walls would be a great way to distract children and help prepare them for treatment.

The spaces provide comfort and distraction for the young patients and their families, but have the added bonus of helping out the really busy Starship staff.

How did you come up with all the different innovation areas?

We all agreed that the final result had to be a space with a real a purpose, somewhere children would want to be while also helping their treatment by providing medical information about things they may experience in a safe fun way. From there, the ‘Starship Animal Check-ups’ and the ‘Magic forest’ interactive technology spaces evolved.

‘The Starship Animal Check-ups’ space is a wall of frames featuring different characters to take children through check-up experiences familiarising them with the processes they will soon undertake with the clinical team. Jungle characters, such as lions, teach children to open their mouths wide, meerkats demonstrate different heart rates and blowfish help to coach different breathing rhythms.

‘The Magic Forest’ is an avatar scene experience creating a calming space to relax and enjoy quiet time. In this space, virtual birds and flowers react to interaction; move slowly and the flowers and birds will come towards visitors, move too quickly and they will be scared off

What was it like working with RUSH Digital?

We’ve worked with Rush on several technology projects, including those used to help raise the money for the Starship refurbishment. Our experience with Rush is that they are passionate about what they do and as a result they’re continuously striving to create innovative, exciting and enjoyable brand experiences.

What has the initial reaction been from patients entering the department?

The initial reaction from the children is how easy it is to interact with the spaces. The content is captivating and calming, encouraging the children’s innate capacity to play. To witness their realisation, that it is a fun child-friendly space that their young minds can intuitively understand is heart-warming. For us big kids, who started thinking about this all those years ago, it’s exciting to see the young patients connecting with our vision.

Also, we know it’s important to be able to prove the worth of these new spaces. So we’re not just relying on what we see and anecdotal feedback from those using the space. We’re also using the technology itself. One of the cool, yet hidden features is the ability to utilise facial recognition technology, to detect smiles and measure the intensity of the smile, along with the length of the smile. We’re looking forward to sharing that side of the Starship children’s emergency department waiting and assessment area refurbishment with you in the near future.

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