Paediatric patients take customised 3D tours inside their bodies

5th April 2018
Enaie Azambuja

Boston Children's Hospital and Klick Health have unveiled the HealthVoyager medical education and patient experience platform – a Proof of Concept that uses VR technology to bring patients' individual medical findings to life in an immersive, 3D environment. The first iteration of the tool, HealthVoyager GI, has been designed for pediatric GI patients and is being used at Boston Children's as part of a clinical study to validate its effect on patient and family understanding, engagement, and satisfaction.

By integrating into the clinical workflow of endoscopic procedures such as colonoscopies, HealthVoyager GI will enable Boston Children's gastroenterologists to custom-configure life-like, 3D anatomical imagery and take pediatric patients with conditions such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis on iPhone-based virtual tours of their GI tract.

Aimed at creating an impactful, engaging, and memorable experience, the platform leverages modern technology to communicate a patient's personalised conditions and endoscopic findings.

Boston Children's performs thousands of endoscopic procedures each year. Of the 1.6 million Americans with inflammatory bowel disease, as many as 80,000 of them are children, according to the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America.

Traditionally, gastroenterologists share endoscopy and colonoscopy findings with patients and their families using print outs that become part of a patient's medical record following the procedure.

These clinical documents are highly text-based, written in medical language, some with static thumbnail images and are designed for medical documentation, not necessarily patient understanding.

"Putting myself in a nine-year-old's shoes, I can see HealthVoyager being a more fun and valuable way to learn about and share complicated information like endoscopic findings," said Michael Docktor, MD, a pediatric gastroenterologist who co-developed the tool and Clinical Director of Innovation at Boston Children's Innovation & Digital Health Accelerator.

"We hypothesise that the more children and their families can visualise and understand their disease, the more likely they may be to communicate when they have a particular symptom and adhere to their therapies."

HealthVoyager also takes a cue from Precision Medicine – the personalisation of drug therapy and genomics for effective disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment – and aims to create Precision Education opportunities for patients and their families.

Boston Children's Chief Innovation Officer John Brownstein, PhD, explained, "When you think about the care path of a patient journey, every aspect of that journey can be customised, including education. To ensure the best possible patient experience, Precision Education needs to be part of the Precision Medicine conversation as we create the future of healthcare."

HealthVoyager consists of three components: the healthcare provider (HCP) frontend application, the patient mobile application, and an intermediary web service that ties the two together.

The platform is compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and is being developed to be accessible from within a hospital's electronic medical record (EMR) systems to protect the privacy and security of patient health information and ensure clinical adoption and sustainability. It runs on iOS; Android compatibility will be available on future versions.

Yan Fossat, VP of Klick Labs at Klick Health and lead on this first of its kind project said the healthcare industry is on the frontier of new opportunities through VR. "Hospitals have started using VR in healthcare, most notably, to distract hospital patients as part of pain management. That's important but it's only scratching the surface of what's possible in patient care. Customisable patient education experiences like HealthVoyager have the potential to directly impact the course of a patient's illness in a major way."

How HealthVoyager GI Works:

At the Physician Level

1. The physician inputs the clinical findings of a patient's endoscopy and/or colonoscopy onto a proprietary web interface that customise the upper and lower GI tract digital illustrations on the platform. Using drag-and-drop functionality, the physician can accurately place polyps, ulcers, bleeding, and other conditions precisely where they are found during the actual procedure(s).

2. The physician clicks to generate the patient report and bring the clinical findings to life in a customised 3D anatomical virtual reality experience.

3. The tool automatically generates a PDF report with unique patient QR code to share with the patient and family.

At the Patient Level

4. The patient/family scans the custom QR code using their mobile phone to access their personalised HealthVoyager experience.

5. The patient creates their personalised avatar on the app.

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