Piloting

 
 

The first time I ever talked with a child life specialist, it was an accident. 

I was on a start up mission: to ask parents about how technology fits into their family life. It was my 17th customer discovery interview, and her name was Anne. When I had finished with my inquiries, Anne asked me why I was asking these questions. I hadn't told her about SpellBound. I happened to have a book on me and launched the app. I didn't say a word. I just let her play with it for a second. She was silent and then looked up and said, "I think you need to talk to my boss."

Anne is a certified child life specialist. One of 4,800+ in the US and Canada (Association Research, Inc. Salary Survey, 2012). As a child life specialist, part of Anne's job is to help kids understand the treatments they are experiencing while in hospital. 

Pia Drown, 4, of Southington, plays a spirited game of cards with child life therapist and fellow cancer patient Jennifer Wheaton. (MICHAEL McANDREWS / Hartford Courant)

Pia Drown, 4, of Southington, plays a spirited game of cards with child life therapist and fellow cancer patient Jennifer Wheaton. (MICHAEL McANDREWS / Hartford Courant)

Child life specialists help families cope with the hospital experience. And, the work they accomplish is a major contribution to creating a positive patient experience and improving treatment outcomes.

 
Sean Brasher, Child Life Specialist with St. Jude Children's Hospital (1080plus.com)

Sean Brasher, Child Life Specialist with St. Jude Children's Hospital (1080plus.com)

 

I was immediately enthralled with the responsibilities of this job. The more I learned about the role Anne plays in the hospital, the more impressed I became. The more conversations I had with other child life specialists, the more I could see how our technology could serve them in their role as therapists, and the children and families that they support.

 
Nevin Jamason with Kristy Rowe and her iPad. (childrendaytons.org)

Nevin Jamason with Kristy Rowe and her iPad. (childrendaytons.org)

 

We set up a pilot project with C.S. Mott Children's Hospital at the University of Michigan to explore all the ways our technology could serve child life specialists. We have learned a lot, and SpellBound has grown as a result. We still do augmented reality. We still do children's books. But we do more than that now. We are crafting a platform that will radically reimagine the patient experience for children and their families. We are creating tools that support child life specialists and their therapeutic goals. We are providing moments of joy and escape for little patients.

 
JJ Bouchard surrounded by SpellBound's Beyond the Book experience. Those butterflies are everywhere!

JJ Bouchard surrounded by SpellBound's Beyond the Book experience. Those butterflies are everywhere!