Background: Doctor-to-patient communication is essential in medicine for a doctor to diagnose a problem and for the patient to receive comfortable treatment. A randomized controlled trial found “the quality of communication in the history-taking and management-discussing portions of the interactions influenced patient outcomes in 16 of 21 studies” (Travaline and Ruchinskas and D’Alonzo, 2005). But what does a patient do if he or she cannot properly express his or her problem?
Goal: Improve or facilitate communication for patients both in clinic and in the hospital who cannot speak or have difficulty communicating due to medically related trauma or injury.
Method: Using the “Mini Me” device a child can use a handheld joystick connected to an ipad with selection options to express hunger, thirst, health needs, pain, or emotion. The child will select from the three top categories: food/drink, health needs, and emotions. Then subcategories will appear such as happy, sad, confused, etc. under emotions. Under health needs and pain, the child will be shown his or her personally designed “Mini Me” and the child can circle the body part that needs assistance. A numbered scale will be presented with detailed descriptions and pictures that portray the severity of pain for each number ranging from 1-10, 1 representing very mild pain and 10 portraying the most severe pain possible. In addition, the user can create responses specific to their needs if they do not find a pre-selected choice to suite their needs by using the keyboard option. A cartoon avatar similar to a Bitmoji customized to the look of the child will then speak the question or comment via an ipad/ smartphone after the final selection. This fun expression of character will be created by the child. Expanding upon individual needs, patients within the hospital can also connect via their “Mini Me” in a group chat to invite other patients to play games together and communicate under hospital supervision. Overall, “Mini Me” can be used in real time to talk with the healthcare team and virtually to communicate with other patients in the hospital. The next steps include creating the ipad software connected to the hand-held device, as well as reviewing patient confidentiality policy regarding in-patient “chat rooms”.
Discussion: Communication is vital in diagnosing and understanding a patient’s pain and emotions. Active communication “has helped to cut readmissions among 448 hospitals by 8.4% in just nine months, reducing costs by $870 million” (Wiens ).“Mini Me” offers a method of communication for patients who are unable to express what they need or want. Beyond the financial benefits or diagnosis process for the physician, the “Mini Me” device allows a patient to feel more empowered and connected.



Author: Julia Heaton

Coauthor(s): Kourtney Hayhurst Works Cited: Travaline, J. M., Ruchinskas, R., & D’Alonzo, G. E. (2005, January 01). Patient-Physician Communication: Why and How. Retrieved July 23, 2017, from Wiens, C. (2013, April 12). The Experts: How to Improve Doctor-Patient Communication. Retrieved July 20, 2017, from

Status: Project Concept