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About Sickkids
About SickKids

November 25, 2014

Small ideas, big results: SickKids hosts its second annual Innovation Expo

Tanya Gilchrist, Patient Information Clerk in the Cardiac Diagnostic and Interventional Unit at SickKids, described an interaction she had with a young patient, where the child flinched in fear as she took his hand to apply his patient identification bracelet.

When she realized this adverse reaction to touch was common among patients, Gilchrist knew that something needed to be done. This led her to this year’s second annual SickKids Innovation Expo held on November 24, 2014, an event where staff are encouraged to showcase new ideas to gain the traction needed to move them forward.

A world leader in paediatric health care, research and learning, SickKids is constantly on the look-out for new and innovative ways to overcome the day-to-day and long-term challenges faced by patients, families and health-care providers.

This year’s theme, Innovation: Past, Present and Future, gave a platform to 27 projects currently being developed by staff members across the organization and stand-out innovations from SickKids’ history. The event also featured displays from CAMH, MaRS and Telus, which provided a look into the future of health care.

“Our goal with the Expo is to spark meaningful conversation around the innovative activity that takes place at SickKids,” said Jennifer Rosart, Innovation Project Manager. “It’s about sharing ideas, feedback and lessons learned from past pursuits.”

MRI simulator

One SickKids innovation does just that. Frank Wang, a Project Lead in Diagnostic Imaging, developed a mock-MRI machine designed to remedy the challenge of keeping nervous or active children still during their MRI scans. The project even goes a step further by creating a motion-tracking video game that alerts patients when they are moving too much and rewarding them when they stay still.

“Traditionally, we have relied on sedation and general anaethesia to keep young children still through their scans. This can be an unpleasant experience for the child and costly for the hospital,” said Wang. “The mock-MRI and video game helps us train patients before their procedures so that they can get through successful scans on their own.”

After presenting the concept in drawings at last year’s Expo, Wang’s project now has its first functional prototype: a compact, portable mock-MRI that can be transported to patients’ rooms to give them an idea of what to expect during their scan.

This is the type of success Gilchrist is hoping to achieve by participating in this year’s Expo. She suggests integrating positive touch and paediatric massage therapy into clinical practice to overshadow the discomfort patients often associate with touch, due to uncomfortable routine clinical procedures like drawing blood.

“Even little ideas like this can make a big difference in how young patients feel about coming to SickKids,” said Gilchrist. “Creating a more positive patient experience is what we’re all about.”