Staff at online retailer Shop Direct have raised £210,000 in just 12 months to support the development of a new digital app for Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.

In the year since deciding upon Alder Hey Children’s Charity as Shop Direct’s charity partner, the 4,700-strong team at sites in Liverpool and Manchester have climbed mountains, sung, run, cycled, abseiled, played ‘beat the goalie’ and completed their own version of The Biggest Loser to raise funds.

Members of Shop Direct’s multi-award winning ecommerce team have also been working with Alder Hey’s innovation team to develop the app – the first of its kind in the country – providing expert insight and advice on design, development and personalisation.

The shared vision of the Alder Hey and Shop Direct teams is to revolutionise the patient experience by harnessing the power of consumer technology to help patients be better informed, calmer, more entertained and, as a result, healthier.

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Iain Hennessey

Iain Hennessey, consultant paediatric surgeon and clinical lead for innovation at Alder Hey, said: “Shop Direct has in common with Alder Hey a drive to innovate and do things differently, which has made them the perfect partner for us in developing our digital hospital vision.

“Together, we’ve been exploring how we can apply Shop Direct’s digital retail expertise to the hospital environment to create our own online ‘shop front’ for Alder Hey.

“We’ve also been overwhelmed by the engagement of the entire Shop Direct team in smashing their £200,000 target for our children’s charity, which will go such a long way to enable us to make the Digital Alder Hey app a reality.

“Thank you to everyone at Shop Direct from all of us at Alder Hey. We couldn’t have achieved what we have without your expert advice and fundraising. You are our heroes.”

Ice Creates, a specialist Liverpool-based digital consultancy, has now begun work to develop the app, which will include a digital map enabling patients to explore and familiarise themselves with the hospital and their ward before they visit the hospital.

Users will be able to find out everything they need to know before their visit, from where to park to what to pack and what their rooms will look like.

The app will also feature games, providing entertainment and much-needed distraction for patients to reduce anxiety while they wait. A rewards scheme will also be used to encourage healthy lifestyle choices.

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Alder Hey children's hospital

Alex Baldock, group CEO at Shop Direct, which uses artificial intelligence to boost profits, said: “Alder Hey is a charity that’s been close to our hearts at Shop Direct for a long time and I was delighted when our colleagues voted last year to support the development of the Digital Alder Hey app.

“We’re proud of our heritage in the North West and it was important to us to select a charity that has a significant impact in our local communities. Alder Hey does that and then some.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the effort everyone at Shop Direct has put in to raise £210,000 over the last 12 months. Our colleagues’ ambition, passion and commitment has surpassed even our own expectations.

“As a team, we’re pleased that we’ve also been able to provide digital skills and expertise to help Alder Hey develop the app and get the project off the ground.

“We look forward to continuing our strategic partnership with Alder Hey on this important project, which will make such a difference to so many children and families across the North West, and to seeing the final product next year.”

Alder Hey’s aim for the digital hospital programme is to further develop the app and join all of this to a secure patient information system, which will hold key information about the patient, such as their likes, dislikes and specific needs.

This will remove the need for families to repeatedly provide the same information at every visit and ensure that they receive a more personalised service.

The app is expected to launch in 2017.