Little Journey, a startup aiming to reduce anxiety for children undergoing healthcare procedures, has just secured €2.8 million. The UK-based team now plans to push forward its international growth plans.
Healthcare procedures induce anxiety in the vast majority of people – young and old. But, for children, the impact is even more extreme. It’s currently reported that about 75% of children will experience significant anxiety before a procedure. As a result, they often need sedative medication for the procedure to go ahead.
As well as causing stress and anxiety for children and their loved ones, it also has negative implications for clinical trials, where adherence to the protocol is hindered by the impact of having multiple repeat procedures.
Little Journey is setting out to change this outlook. The startup has developed an app that helps children and their families prepare for medical interventions, reducing stress and anxiety. The UK-based team has just secured €2.8 million to scale.
The round was led by Octopus Ventures.
Dr Chris Evans, Founder: “We’re passionate about improving the experience of children coming to the hospital and providing data-driven personalised care. This investment will help us support more children undergoing a wider range of procedures all over the world.”
Founded by anaesthetist Dr Chris Evans & human-centred product designer Sophie Copley, The Little Journey app is designed to prepare, inform and support children and their families before, during and after healthcare procedures and interactions.
Joe Stringer, Partner, Health, Octopus Ventures: “Chris, Sophie and the Little Journey team have developed a platform that not only has a hugely positive impact on the kids it’s built to help but reduces costs for hospitals delivering paediatric care and smooth the creation of new, better treatments for children.”
The app features animated characters that explain what’s going to happen alongside relaxation animations to help children develop positive coping strategies and games to distract them during their time in the hospital. It also includes modules to help families understand who they will meet throughout their journey, take virtual hospital tours and track adherence to their medication.
Launched in 2021, the app has been co-created with children, parents and carers to tailor the experience and ensure it meets the specific needs of children. It’s built on research underway since 2018. For parents and carers, information is fed into the app at key moments along the journey with checklists, support information and guidelines to help the family and child prepare mentally and physically.
Little Journey claims that the end product can reduce anxiety by 32%, recovery time by 30% and on-the-day cancellations by 42%.
The platform also includes management portals for hospitals and for clinical trials. For hospitals, Little Journey provides healthcare staff with a portal to choose the content in a patient’s app, build virtual patient pathways and instantly edit key information so they can give each patient personalised end-to-end support throughout their hospital journey.
Whilst the app has been built to remove children’s distress during medical procedures, it also has a beneficial outcome for clinical trials.
It’s estimated that 25-40% of paediatric clinical trials fail to establish the right data to determine the safety and effectiveness of the treatment – and that’s largely because of the anxiety and stress placed on children that results in dropouts. By using the app, research staff and contract research organisations can configure content relevant to the trial and monitor progress through the management platform, while benefitting from improved recruitment, better adherence, a better patient experience, reduced withdrawals and faster trial delivery.
Sine launched, Little Joruney has joined the NHS Accelerator and taken part in the LEGO Foundation’s Play For All accelerator. It’s now working with the LEGO Foundation to tailor the Little Journey app for autistic children and children with ADHD.
This new funding will be used the further develop the product and boost international expansion.
Nicolaus Henke, a Senior Partner Emeritus of McKinsey: “It’s impressive to see what Little Journey has built already, with many important wins. Early studies show that pediatric patients have reduced anxiety by 32% throughout their hospital journey. Parents gain a new channel for advice and information, a significant unmet need in pediatric care. Providers of pediatric care see more effective operations, and clinical trials with pediatric patients in rare diseases see more effective operations.”