UWTSD Master’s student and research centre collaborate to improve children’s medical procedure experiences


University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) student Adam Higgins has collaborated with the University’s Assistive Technologies Innovation Centre (ATiC), to develop his range of Pre-Medical-Preparation – or PreMedPrep – product prototypes to improve children’s medical procedure experiences.

University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) student Adam Higgins has collaborated with the University’s Assistive Technologies Innovation Centre (ATiC), to develop his range of Pre-Medical-Preparation – or PreMedPrep – product prototypes to improve children’s medical procedure experiences.

The five-month project was supported by Life Sciences Hub Wales through Accelerate, a £24million co-funded programme by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Welsh Government.

MSc Industrial Design student Adam, aged 23, from Rhiwbina in Cardiff, worked with ATiC as he developed his bright and colourful animal-themed products, which are each specific to a certain medical procedure or examination.

The products aim to teach, engage, and prepare children for their procedure, such as blood tests, heart and temperature examinations, and nebulisers for medication intake, offering  the child a sense of control and autonomy back over their healthcare.

Healthcare procedures can often cause children to experience anxiety, fear, and stress because of a ‘fear of the unknown’. 

Adam’s products provide users with the knowledge of how a procedure works through a realistic demonstration. The visual-based learning is an engaging and comforting way of supporting them emotionally and cognitively, and improving their overall medical experience.

Adam, who is a Product Design graduate of UWTSD’s Swansea College of Art, said: “A child’s lack of understanding of what is happening to them can lead to a negative experience of medical procedures; it can cause fear and anxiety and affect their future medical visits.  This can have lasting implications and children will often refuse future treatments, which can lead to longer procedure times and makes the work of healthcare professionals more challenging.

“Working with ATiC, the aim was to use a mixed-method approach to evaluate and optimise the PreMedPrep product prototypes.  By utilising the facilities, expertise and industry contacts within ATiC, I was able to explore the commercial potential and understand if the product was a viable solution to de-stress the patient experience for children undergoing diagnostic blood screenings.

“Through the collaboration, I was able to gain feedback from paediatric medical practitioners, which was vital in further product development.  Additionally, the technical support ATiC offered allowed me to refine the product to manufacturing standards, ensuring each component is compatible with industry manufacturing methods.

“Connecting with medical practitioners through ATiC has resulted in conducting in-field product testing.  At Ty Hafan’s Children's Hospice, the product was tested in a realistic medical environment and with patients undergoing a blood screening

“The next steps now in the development of my products are to continue conducting in-field testing to collect extra data on the product to make a more comprehensive analysis.  In addition, work with a third-party testing body to get the product approved under the relevant safety standards.”

Ian Williams, Senior Innovation Fellow at ATiC, said: “It’s great to see Adam take his ideas and concepts developed on the Product Design Course at UWTSD into a start-up enterprise.  We were delighted to support him by accessing the expertise and cutting-edge facilities available at ATiC.

“The collaboration, which spanned five months, involved undertaking product usability evaluations with clinicians and children, using our behavioural observation and analysis systems.

“These interaction and insights enabled Adam to understand the challenges and refine his design from the feedback and, with ATiC’s assistance, 3D printed new working prototypes, which were tested again to improve the product further to take a step closer to being market ready.”

Adam also received advice and support from both Kath Penaluna, UWTSD’s Enterprise Manager and a member of the UK Intellectual Property’s education advisory group IPUC, and Patent Attorney Tom Baker of Murgitroyd, who regularly supports UWTSD students with guidance in protecting their innovations. 

Adam has successfully applied to register the design of Eilo the Elephant, which is a key part of the future roadmap of the product and which will give him confidence when publicly displaying the product at leading design showcase New Designers in London in July.

Note to Editor


PreMedPrep stands for Pre-Medical-Preparation and abbreviates the product's true objective to help children prepare for medical procedures.

The Elephant, called Eilo, is a holistic solution designed to de-stress the patient and parent experience for children undergoing a diagnostic blood screening. Preparation is key in reducing the anxieties and fears children experience in the lead up to blood tests. Eilo has many visual and directional learning objectives to improve the patient's medical experience.

Using gamification and buddy system techniques to prepare children and their parents beforehand, Eilo the Elephant helps guide children through their blood tests and significantly enhances their patient experience. This can increase the likelihood of first-time-right blood testing, reassure the parents and empower the child with a positive healthcare experience.

To accompany the product, Eilo’s Appointment Storybook is a playful way to learn about the blood sampling process at home with the help of Eilo and his friends. The engaging book demonstrates to children how Eilo undergoes a blood test and learns the essential steps required to complete the procedure.

The child will eventually meet Eilo the Elephant at the hospital, where they can play with the physical product and discover how blood tests are administered. This can positively distract them from their fears or anxieties, thus being in more control of their experience.

When it's time to have the blood test, Eilo the Elephant will have given the confidence the child needs to execute the procedure and have a positive healthcare experience.

The Assistive Technologies Innovation Centre (ATiC)

ATiC, an integrated research centre which puts user-centred thinking and strategic innovation tools into practice through its cutting-edge User Experience (UX) and Usability Evaluation research facility located in Swansea’s Innovation Quarter, is a partner in the £24m Accelerate Wales (the Welsh Health Innovation Technology Accelerator) project.

The pioneering Accelerate collaboration between UWTSD, Cardiff University’s Clinical Innovation Accelerator, Swansea University’s Health Technology Centre, and the Life Sciences Hub Wales, is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), through the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO).

Further Information

Bethan Evans

Swyddog Prosiect ATiC, Marchnata a Chyfathrebu | ATiC Project Officer, Marketing and Communications

Canolfan Arloesi Technolegau Cynorthwyol (CATC) | Assistive Technologies Innovation Centre (ATiC)

Prifysgol Cymru Y Drindod Dewi Sant | University of Wales Trinity Saint David

Technium 1 | Technium 1

Heol y Brenin | King’s Road

Abertawe | Swansea


Ebost | Email bethan.evans@uwtsd.ac.uk