Launched today! Phone app supports parents and carers of pre-term and sick babies

A mobile app launched today for parents-to-be and parents and carers with babies in the Rosie Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) could make visits less stressful – with a range of 360-degree visual tours, clinical information, relaxation techniques and even games for anxious guardians and siblings.

The Little Journey app was originally designed to help reassure children before they go to hospital for an operation, and has been specially modified to meet the needs of parents and carers with babies at NICU.

Topun Austin

Consultant neonatologist and Director of the Evelyn Perinatal Imaging Centre, Professor Topun Austin (pictured) played a key role in the app’s modification: “Together with colleagues from East of England Neonatal Operational Delivery Network we received funding from the Health Foundation Q Community to look at ways digital technologies could help parents with babies on the NICU.

“We contacted NIHR Cambridge BRC to find out how best to get feedback and they facilitated a parent focus group, who loved the idea of an app designed to support parents and carers of babies in NICU.

“We then got in touch with Little Journey and they worked with families to develop the app tailored to the needs of parents and carers of babies on NICU.

“The result is amazing. We see this app as a digital ‘helping hand’, which can help reduce parents’ and carers’ anxiety, providing easily accessible information about where their baby is being looked after as well as clinical information relevant to their care.”

Screenshots of the various options available on the mobile app. The image below is from a 360-degree video of NICU: the icons and question marks reveal more information when clicked!

Award-winning innovation

The Little Journey app is one of several innovations selected by the NHS Innovation Accelerator initiative for its potential to enable patient and NHS staff benefit.

Prof Austin said: “Visiting hospital is anxiety-provoking for families, and the Little Journey app helps prepare them for their visits through fun, interactive and tailored-information that is always at their fingertips.

“This is a unique resource, with support and information for every stage of their child’s journey through NICU, from birth through to discharge and beyond.”

The information includes sections on neonatal care, common medical conditions and treatments, transfers to another NICU or local unit, going home, and palliative care and bereavement.

There are also virtual ‘360 degree’ tours of different parts of NICU and the PaNDR transport ambulance.

Prof Austin continued: “The app supports the whole family through what can be a stressful time with engaging content which informs, reassures and ultimately empowers them.”


Modification of the app was funded by the Health Foundation Q Community, the NIHR Brain Injury Med Tech Cooperative (now the HealthTech Research Centre for Brain Injury) and NIHR Cambridge BRC.


Currently the app is being rolled out across five hospitals in the East of England but the aim is for a regional and then national roll-out.

There is also scope within the app for it to be broadened to include clinical research projects. Prof Austin said: “We’ve seen how Little Journey can promote trial recruitment and cut early withdrawal, and this is a feature we would like to enable over time.”

Download Little Journey for the NICU

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