The Xploro digital therapeutics platform uses augmented reality and artificial intelligence to ease procedural anxiety and reduce stress in children with cancer. Through immersive tech and gameplay, it shows young patients what they might encounter at a hospital – from the various equipment and environments, to their doctors and treatments.
“For Kids Like My Daughter”
As a child, Dom Raban’s daughter, Issy, was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma. For kids Issy’s age, there wasn’t much in the way of information about the condition, and she often found herself in a hospital room with her parents and doctors, all having a conversation about her. She felt confused and ignored, and of course, afraid. According to her father, Dom, the Managing Director at Corporation Pop (the company behind Xploro), “This made her resistant to her treatments, afraid to return to the hospital, and ultimately, distrustful of the system that cured her.”
Someone to Lean On
After the experience with his daughter, Dom was determined to create something that would help kids like Issy feel less confused and afraid. Perhaps this is why one of the first things kids encounter when they use Xploro, is their own personal guide. This takes the form of an avatar/chatbot that can be customized to look like the patient and reflect their experience. This guide takes the child through the whole hospital environment, introducing them to the people, places, and equipment they may encounter. This all-knowing chatbot delivers information, support, or much-needed distraction on demand.
Unmasking the MRI, Proton Therapy, and More
The MRI and proton radiation therapy are two areas where Xploro’s digital therapeutics are visibly changing kids’ mindsets and outcomes. Children often have difficulties with MRIs and proton therapy because the equipment looks like something out of a science fiction movie, and they have to stay completely still for long periods of time. With Xploro, kids can explore a 3D environment similar to where imaging and treatment takes place (similar to the proton therapy environment shown above) so they can learn how everything works and what to expect. According to Dom, this has the potential to reduce the number of kids who might otherwise need anesthesia to get through these procedures.
But these are not the only areas where Xploro is making a difference. Xploro’s AR is also helping kids learn about ultrasounds, CT scans, chemotherapy, and more.
“A six-month study at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital compared 40 children who received Xploro before their procedure to 40 children who received the typical hospital communications. Findings show that the group who received Xploro showed a statistically significant decrease in procedural anxiety and statistically significant increases in both knowledge about procedures and patient satisfaction.”
AI That Speaks Kid
When Dom’s team at Corporation Pop put this app together, they decided they needed an AI platform that doesn’t exist yet. So they created it themselves. The difference between their platform and those of other companies is that it uses synthetic phonics to speak kid. In other words, it understands how a child might misspell a particular word, or what they really mean when they’re talking to their avatar/chatbot.
Clinician Tested, Kid-Approved
Everything that you see on the Xploro app has been verified by actual clinicians — and tested by real kids. How does that happen? Dom tells us it’s a three-part process:
1. The content is scripted by pediatric-specific writers, and Dom’s content team
2. The content is verified by clinicians – Dom says they’ve partnered with the UK’s biggest children’s hospital – clinicians receive a small royalty from sales in return for reviewing content. Finally, the app is tested by a group of kids aged 8-14 that Dom affectionately calls “the board.” These kids use the Xploro app regularly and provide real-time feedback via Slack or “board meetings.”
Just the Beginning
Xploro’s current focus is on childhood cancer, but Dom believes that’s just the start.
“We’ll continue to build out our digital therapeutics platform for any patient, any age, any condition, anywhere,” he said.
Corporation Pop is also working on various translations of Xploro, beginning with a Spanish language version, which is in development. Other versions are expected to follow.
The Domain Name That Says It All
When we asked Dom why his company decided to go with a .health domain name, he told us that Xploro.health isn’t just easy to understand, it’s also easy on the eyes.
“Xploro.com, or .org or .co, or .io doesn’t tell you anything about what kind of company we are. .health lets you know that Xploro is healthcare. And being a very visual person, I love how Xploro.health looks, whenever I see it.”
We might be biased here, but we also love how the .health domain looks whenever WE see it, too.