Building HOPE: Developing the Nation's First High-Speed Inter-hospital Gaming Network

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Building HOPE: Developing the Nation's First High-Speed Inter-hospital Gaming Network

United States
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Bringing off the shelf networked gaming technology to a pediatric patient population, and measuring its impact as a 'novel peer support network'.

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Plot your innovation within the mosaic of solutions
Which of these barriers is the primary focus of your work?

Dual Stigma

Which of the principles is the primary focus of your work?

Emotional Health

If you believe some other barrier or principle should be included in the mosaic, please describe it and how it would affect the positioning of your initiative in the mosaic:

This field has not been completed

What is your signature innovation in one sentence?

Bringing off the shelf networked gaming technology to a pediatric patient population, and measuring its impact as a 'novel peer support network'.

Describe your innovation. What makes your idea unique and different than others doing work in the field?

Our pilot study focussed on using a wireless LAN to connect five users in different parts of a dialysis center so that they could play games with one another. While networked communities (Starbright) and stand-alone entertainment solutions (Starlight / GetwellGamers / ChildsPlay) are currently exist, HOPE is the first initiative that seeks to bring high-end networked gaming experiences to chronically ill children in the hospital and measure their impact. The pilot was primarily a safety and efficacy study, designed to demonstrate that these console stations could be brought into a high acuity clinical environment (hemodialysis) without disruption of physician / nurse workflow. We also noted that children who had a history of being non-compliant with their therapy demonstrated improved adherence to outpatient dialysis. While the technology may have had a part to play in this, we believe that it was the opportunity to develop a social network that really mattered to our kids

What barriers exist that are creating the problem your innovation is hoping to address/change?

To echo points already explored in the mosaic of solutions, there is a strong stigma associated with gaming culture, especially within the field of healthcare. Also, of tantamount importance is the online safety of this potentially quite vulnerable population. The selection of age appropriate games, in addition to making this a closed environment that only members of HOPE (i.e. hospitalized children) can access are some of the primary barriers that we are in the process of addressing.

Delivery Model: How do you implement your innovation and apply it to the challenge/problem you are addressing.

Currently we are in the process of implementing HOPE alpha, our headquarters of sorts, based at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Working in concert with the Child Life department, we are installing 24 Xbox360 consoles, interconnected by LAN, to one of the inpatient pediatric floors of Johns Hopkins Hospital. Once HOPE alpha is complete, we intend to partner with children's hospitals around the country in addition to Microsoft in order to establish HOPE sites that are interconnected. We believe that this 'Hospital-based Online Pediatric Environment' (HOPE) will create the backdrop for a unique and compelling peer support network for our nation's chronically ill children.

How do you plan to scale your innovation?

Therein lies the beauty. Because the end-user hardware is all off the shelf technology, we will be using the same backbone solution that is currently available commercially - Xbox Live. The primary challenges in terms of scalability lie in securing agreements among hospitals and Microsoft. No additional proprietary coding is planned.

Provide one sentence describing your impact.

Receiving chemo therapy and saving humanity from the clutches of an alien invasion is hard work; thanks to HOPE, I don't have to do either alone.

What impact has your innovation had to date? Exactly who are the beneficiaries of your innovation?

To date we've helped prove that networked gaming experiences can be safely installed into a busy outpatient dialysis unit. We've shown that in addition to the five patients we involved with out pilot study, the doctors and nurses who took care of them thought that the intervention was positive. Furthermore, our data suggested that children that were high risk for not being compliant with their dialysis regimen (outpatient dialysis, despite being life sustaining, is entirely voluntary) were more likely to return and undergo treatment.

How many people have you served directly?

5 patients were involved in the pilot study. The original equipment was donated to the dialysis center at the end of 2005 - it is unclear how many other patients have used the equipment since then. The current install of 24 consoles into the JHH pediatrics floor is expected to be completed by December 2007.

How many people have you served indirectly?

This is difficult to judge.

Please list any other measures reflective of the impact of your innovation

With an appropriately powered trial, we hope to measure the impact that this 'novel peer support network' would have on such measures as quality of life scores, childhood depression scores,and body dismorphic perception scores, in addition to adherence to therapy.

What are the main barriers to creating your impact?

Partnerships with other children's centers. Interconnection agreements via Xbox Live with Microsoft.

How is your initiative financed?

We have received funds from a number of different sources. Sponsors include the Childsplay Charity, Gamestop, LegalZoom, Apogee Physicians and Johns Hopkins Children's Center.

Provide information on your finances and organization: annual budget, annual revenue, number of staff:

Funding thus far:
2005: $4500 (ChildsPlay)
2006: $24,000 (ChildsPlay + GameStop + Legal Zoom)
2007: $10,000 (Apogee Physcians)

Number of full-time staff: 0
Part-time: 1 (Mary W.)
Volunteers: 4 (Robert S., Joe G, Patrice B., Harold L., Sue F., and Arun M.)

What is the potential demand for your innovation?

Accurate numbers are difficult to estimate. By rough calculations, with the rate of growth that gaming culture is experiencing in this country, the demand will most assuredly outstrip our ability to install network equipped gaming consoles (or HOPE sites) to the nation's children's hospitals. Furthermore, with gaming's explosive growth witnessed internationally, it is very possible that HOPE, if steered correctly, could become an international phenomenon.

What are the main barriers to financial sustainability?

Maintenance of the equipment, and updating of legacy software will be costly in the early life of the network. Substantial fiscal sponsorship agreements will be needed to support the network. We predict, however, that as bandwidth capability increases, games, content and even research survey tools will all be delivered via the network, obviating the need for costly re-installs.

The Story
What is the origin of this innovation? Tell us your story.

The original inspiration for HOPE came from an experience I had while doing a rotation in pediatrics at a teaching hospital during medical school. I had met a group of kids that had cystic fibrosis, and as a result, were no strangers to the concept of frequent hospital visits. The disease affects multiple organ systems, but the lungs take the brunt of the damage, with kids frequently being admitted for lung infections. These kids were essentially ‘vets’ of the pediatric hospital system, and really didn’t like being bothered by medical students with their unending questions and cold stethoscopes.

I remember striking up a conversation with one of the kids about gaming – and all of a sudden, we were equals, sharing insights on experiences we had had gaming, namely tuning up cars in Gran Turismo and outwitting Revolver Ocelot in Metal Gear Solid. The experience culminated in my smuggling in a laptop and cell phone a few days later to get onto and do some online gaming. The whole experience got me thinking – how cool would it be to use online gaming communities as a way of bringing together hospitalized and/or socially isolated kids?

Please provide a personal bio. Note this may be used in Changemakers marketing material

Arun Mathews is currently director of research and medical education with the Apogee Physicians group, a nationwide hospitalist practice based in Phoenix, AZ. Board certified in internal medicine, he has always been fascinated by the marriage of medicine with technology. Dr. Mathews founded the HOPE research initiative at John Hopkins, inspired by an experience that lead him to believe that a passion for gaming could help kids better deal with the challenges of being in a hospital.

How did you hear about this contest and what is your main incentive to participate? (this is confidential)

Mary White, our project coordinator in Baltimore forwarded the link to me. Our ideals seemed nicely aligned with the competition's premise, so we decided to enter.