As a physician, my life is filled with paperwork, medical equipment, and (to a child) a whole lot of neat-looking machines. My 6-year-old daughter always jumps at the chance to come to the medical offices where I see patients. She loves to see firsthand the patients, the medical workers, and the environment where healthcare is administered. My PlayHome Hospital, an interactive “hospital dollhouse” app from PlayHome Software Ltd, allows you to explore the inside (and outside!) of a hospital in quite a unique and immersive fashion. I occasionally let my daughter play too. :)
As soon as you stroll through the main entrance of the hospital, you are greeted by the front desk staff, who can be moved to anywhere in the room. If you place a staff person on a chair, he/she sits down. You can have them answer the phone and accept faxes from the machine in the corner on the left. You can move new people from the top of the screen into the scene - you can place the kids so that they are standing on the desk - just like they do at a real doctor’s office! :)
The yellow arrows on the screen direct you to other areas of the hospital, such as the examination room. The interactive elements in this scene are quite remarkable, including the paper towel dispenser, height measurer, and chairs. The sink can be turned on and off. The otoscope and ophthalmoscope (yes, I spell-checked that word!) on the wall can be taken out of their holders and thrown around the room (just like in a real doctor’s office)! Patients can be placed on the examination table (or on top of each other), and the stethoscope on the bookcase can be used to listen to a patient’s heart and lungs. There are bandages in the cupboard beneath the sink, and they can be placed on patients (and the doctor himself). The medications above the sink can be consumed. And yes, the fax machine works.
Further exploration around the hospital takes us up the elevator to a patient room. Just about anything in the room is interactive. If there is a patient in the hospital bed, the telemetry monitor springs to life. The TV on the wall turns on and off and features a (live and moving!) aquarium scene. When the drapes are closed, the room darkens so that the patient can get some much needed rest (which, if you have ever been admitted to a hospital overnight, you can attest that this NEVER happens). The IV pump also works! These fine details are demonstrative of the time and dedication that the developers took to build this app.
Back down the elevator and down the hall from the gift shop, you will find the emergency department, complete with multiple patient bays. An ER nurse is currently in bed 2 receiving two units of packed red blood cells - and she is still smiling! The computer screen next to the refrigerator shows multiple, clickable screens of patient information. Whoops, it looks like someone left the blood component refrigerator door open!
Elsewhere in the hospital, you can explore the radiology suite, which has a moving machine - I think it is fluoroscopy, but I cannot be entirely sure.
What completely blows me away about the details in this app is the animations. For example, when the you place a patient in the bed in the radiology suite, the room darkens, and the machine turns on. When the machine is moved, the computer monitors behind the glass divider indicate what body part will be x-rayed, in real time When the x-ray is taken, a “film” prints out and is available for viewing. A little old school, but still very cool:
When you walk outside the front door of the hospital, there is an ambulance waiting. You can turn on the lights and sirens and drive away as fast as you can flick the ambulance off the screen! The good news is that the ambulance always comes back slowly to the front entrance, ready to take the next patient somewhere. To the left of the front entrance, you can walk down the path to the My PlayHome School, which is another app in the My PlayHome series. Nice integration there.
There are several other interactive rooms in the hospital that I have not discussed so that I do not ruin the surprise of discovery. This is a solid app, and I unconditionally recommend it for any child in the 3-8 year old range. The app is available on the App Store for $2.99. The other My PlayHome apps, My PlayHome ($3.99), My PlayHome Stores ($2.99), and My PlayHome School ($2.99) are also available, and they are all universal apps, which means that you make one purchase for both the iPad and iPhone versions. Considering the depth of content and detail in these apps, that it is quite a deal. There is a also a free “lite” version of My PlayHome, which has limited functionality, but it serves as an introduction to the platform. The Android version of the apps are available on the Google Play Store, and as of the time of this writing, the My PlayHome Hospital app for Android is not yet available. Please see the developer’s home page for more information.
Now, if you will excuse me, I am going to go play this game some more and heat up some muffins in the break room :)