Clinical Center News
Fall 2021

New game introduces youngest patients to the Clinical Center

App aims to make the hospital experience less daunting for children

Kavya Nadella voices the narration of the Treasure Tour game
Kavya Nadella voices the narration of the Treasure Tour game.

The NIH Clinical Center is giving its patients the chance to "level up" with a new app.

Treasure Tour is a free game application created for the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center. Launched in October, the app is aimed at children, teens and their families to better help them understand the layout of the hospital, the programs and services offered onsite and the procedures and tests patients might undergo.

Treasure Tour is designed to be a fun and interactive game. Players can customize their character and explore the hospital before visiting in person.

Treasure Tour can be played on web-based platforms and downloaded to iOS devices in the App Store or to Android devices in the Google Play Store.

"At the NIH Clinical Center we want to make every effort to ensure children and their families coming to receive treatment feel comfortable and can navigate the hospital with ease," said NIH Clinical Center CEO James K. Gilman.

Treasure Tour provides a look at six different patient care areas of the Clinical Center. Players can explore the hospital's pediatric clinic, one of the day hospitals, an inpatient unit, the phlebotomy lab, radiology and imaging sciences and the Department of Perioperative Medicine. All are presented in a kid-friendly way and are easily recognizable to anyone who has visited, or will soon visit, the hospital.

"Leaving home to receive care at a new hospital can be very frightening, especially to young children," said Dr. Lori Wiener, Co-Director of the Behavioral Health Core and Director for the Psychosocial Support and Research Program for the Pediatric Oncology Branch's Center for Cancer Research in the National Cancer Institute.

The game is another way to "help to reduce uncertainty, decrease associated distress and enhance adjustment to the new hospital and treatment," she added.

Screenshot from the NIHCC Treasure Tour
Screenshot from the NIHCC Treasure Tour, available for web play and downloadable at the Apple and Google stores.

The game also has a behind the scenes connection to the Clinical Center.

The narrator of the game is Kavya Nadella, a student at the University of Houston, majoring in Speech Therapy who is also a patient at the Clinical Center.

"I was a part of the clinical research for Dock 8 immunodeficiency and I was part of that study from when I first got in contact with NIH in 2014 to now," said Nadella.

Nadella spent several weeks recording scripts daily this summer during a break from her studies. This was her first time doing voice-over work and she was very excited to participate.

"When I was recording my voice, I tried to stay as calm as possible. I just hope that my voice gives [patients] a sense of calmness as well," added Nadella.

Nadella added that she was pleased to be a part of the project and give back to the community.

The Clinical Center Office of Communications and Media Relations came up with the idea for the app and shepherded the project in close partnership with Dr. Wiener and her staff, as well as with guidance from the Pediatric Care Committee, Department of Clinical Research Informatics, The Children's Inn, and other stakeholders.

Funding for the development of the app came from the National Cancer Institute's Center for Cancer Research. Ongoing support and maintenance for the game will come from the Clinical Center. The Treasure Tour app was built by Breakaway Games, a developer of real time strategy games that use entertainment game technology to solve real world problems.

Since this game is aimed at a young audience, a lot of thought was put into protecting users' privacy. Treasure Tour was designed to be a single-player game, so children aren't in a game environment with strangers. No personally identifiable information is gathered during play, and the app does not track the user's geo-location or use their social media in any way.

Learn more about how to play the Treasure tour game
Learn more about Treasure Tour's privacy policy
Or contact for more information.

- Donovan Kuehn and Maria Maslennikov

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