Disney characters will lend a hand to kids during MRI scans

Radiologists in Europe could soon have help keeping children calm as they have MRI scans from Disney favourites like Micky Mouse, Winnie the Pooh and the Little Mermaid.

Healthcare tech company Philips has teamed up with Walt Disney Corp to develop custom ambient animations – featuring some of the most-loved characters from Disney, Marvel and Star Wars shows – that can be played to children during the procedure.

The confined space in MRI units and noise of the scan can be challenging even for adults, particularly those with claustrophobia, but can be even more distressing for children and their parents.

In some patients the fear and anxiety can get so acute that the only way to proceed is with sedation. One Australian study found that around 2% of scans are aborted because the patient was unable to cope.

Philips and Disney will put their animations through their paces in a clinical research programme focused on children, with the aim of “creating an engaging, multi-sensorial imaging environment that is welcoming and relaxing, giving patients a feeling of empowerment and control over their procedure.”

The pilot project will start in the summer at six hospitals across Europe, and the results are due later this year. Six original Disney animations will be created for the study.

Philips has already deployed its Ambient Experience animation technology, which starts when the patient enters the MRI room and continues throughout the procedure, in 2,000 diagnostic facilities and has gathered feedback from clinicians using the system.

The company says that thanks to the soothing environment – with sound, video projection and dynamic lighting – surveys show that 76% of clinical staff reported reduced tension in their patients, while reduced fear was reported by 71%.

66% of respondents said their patients were more calm, 63% felt they were more cooperative, and nine out of 10 said they would recommended use of the technology to other hospitals.

“Health systems are looking for ways to increasing patient satisfaction while improving patient throughput and compliance in diagnostic imaging,” said Werner Satter, Philips’ general manager, healthcare experience solutions.

“Our customers confirm that Ambient Experience helps them improve the patient experience, reducing the patient’s anxiety and thereby increasing first-time-right imaging.”

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