Australian innovator Smileyscope is taking the fear out of hospital for kids
Australian paediatrician and entrepreneur Dr Evelyn Chan is changing the
way children experience needles. Her company, Smileyscope, uses virtual
reality (VR) to improve clinical procedures involving needles – everything
from vaccinations, blood taking, preparation for imaging procedures and
even chemotherapy dose delivery.
Needle procedures are not only traumatic for children, they also cause
headaches for healthcare systems too. Billions of dollars are spent in the
US alone each year just in managing paediatric needles – mainly in nurse
time, equipment use and needlestick injuries, delays and complications for
To address the problem of traumatic needle procedures for children,
Smileyscope applied leading clinical evidence and new digital tools to
develop a best practice approach to improve these procedures. A
goggle-based underwater VR adventure with Poggles the penguin was the
result of many years of research, development and clinical studies by Dr
Chan and her team – with support from the Australian Government
Accelerating Commercialisation program. Australian clinical leaders,
patients and their families collaborated in developing the VR story and
have led clinical studies for the technology.
Smileyscope’s VR experience with Poggles informs, calms and distracts
during the needle procedure, as the animations have been created to
perfectly coincide with the procedures being carried out. A recent
randomized controlled trial of 252 children aged 4-11 years getting blood
tests and intravenous cannulation found using VR can decrease pain by up to
60%, decrease distress by up to 75% and halves the need for restraints.
This was the largest and most rigorous trial ever done using VR for a
Smileyscope is in late stage clinical development – undertaking studies and
hospital pilots in Australia and in the US, where the company has set up a
second office. The company is continuing to iterate and innovate their
technology to ensure they are well set up to scale – and to meet the already
significant demand from paediatric hospitals in Australia and the US.
Find out more about Smileyscope