Get Inspired Jerry Lieveld 5 Oct 2016
Let’s meet Sunny & Tim, two cartoon characters that visualize medical information in nuclear medicine. Although we hope you’ll never need them, they’re a good case of visual patient education with an app.
When a child needs a medical examination related to the function of organs or suspicion of cancer, you may feel left in the dark with countless questions, unsure what to expect. To unveil the complex medical information in his specialization, nuclear physician Ronald van Rheenen came up with the idea of cartoonlike animations: Sunny & Tim.
Sunny & Tim clearly explain the whole process of examination in nuclear medicine, for example why a child cannot eat hours before the examination. “In nuclear medicine we take photos after inserting a radioactive substance in the patient’s body. The radiation comes from inside the body; it’s not like X rays that come from an outside source,” says Ronald, who is also known as ´the photo doctor´.
Sunny stands for the radiating light in the patient’s body where Tim is the tracer that tells his friend which way to go. Together they have to find Rob who’s at the ill spot in the patient’s body. So the photo doctor can see the ill spot and make a photo.
This way of examination occasionally requires the patient to wait a long time between the injection and the photo. Sometimes patients have to lie flat, may not talk or are not allowed to eat hours before the examination. “That’s hard to explain, especially to children,” says Ronald. “And most people, young and old, benefit from visualization in simple pictures. That’s why designer Floris de Jonge and I came up with the cartoon characters.”
Thanks to Sunny & Tim, children have less fear for an injection and the examination as a whole.
Photo doctor Ronald van Rheenen and illustrator Floris de Jonge – Books Sunny & Tim
“It really works,” says photo doctor Ronald. “We’ve heard stories of children correcting their parents: ‘no daddy, I cannot eat because Sunny needs to find Rob.’ And we have noticed that children have less fear for an injection and the examination as a whole with Sunny & Tim.”
Patients can see Sunny & Tim in picture books, on YouTube video’s and in the children’s corner of the University Medical Center of Groningen, The Netherlands, where doctor Ronald works. There are posters, drawings and coloring pictures with the cartoon characters.
Sunny & Tim now even have their own mobile app. “The app is a great addition. It helps us to present all the info and video’s in one place,” Ronald explains. “It’s a free app in English and Dutch, for Android and Apple so anyone can use it. It’s available to other hospitals in the world. I hope they’ll offer the app to their patients. Children just love to play around with their parents’ smartphone or the iPads in the hospital.”