Philips has announced a collaboration with The Walt Disney Company which will study the effects of custom-made animation on children undergoing MRI scans.
Announced last week during the European Congress of Radiology (ECR) virtual event, the research will explore the impact of Philips Ambient Experience on paediatric patients undergoing diagnostic scans in six European hospitals.
Already installed in 2,000 hospitals around the world, Philips Ambient Experience applies human-focused innovation and design thinking to improve patient outcomes by reducing the stress and anxiety many patients feel when undergoing a radiology exam.
This includes using music, lighting and imagery to combat the feelings of anxiety and claustrophobia often associated with the procedure, which can often take up to 45 minutes to complete.
In this way we can provide the comfort and reassurance of a familiar character, but ensure that, from a radiology point of view, we get the best-quality images
A survey of Philips’ existing Ambient Experience animation technology found that 76% of clinical staff reported reduced tension in their patients, while reduced fear was reported by 71%.
And 66% of respondents said their patients were more calm, 63% felt they were more co-operative, and nine out of 10 said they would recommended use of the technology to other hospitals.
And the new collaboration will focus specifically on children and aims to help reduce the need for sedation and repeat scans.
Werner Satter, general manager of Philips Healthcare Experience Solutions, said: “As you can imagine, or may have experienced yourself, medical exams like MRI scans can be challenging for many patients, especially children, who may be scared, anxious or feeling claustrophobic.
“Philips Ambient Experience helps manage these challenges by creating an engaging, multi-sensorial imaging environment that is welcoming and relaxing, giving patients a feeling of empowerment and control over their procedure. “
This marks the first time Disney has collaborated in a clinical research project of this kind and is part of its $100m effort to re-imagine the patient pathway for children in hospitals worldwide.
In addition to creating a positive experience, we know our characters help to build trust in children
It will use a series of animated stories featuring stylised versions some of Disney’s most-well-loved children’s characters – including Winnie The Pooh, The Avengers, Star Wars and Disney princes and princesses.
The new versions have been chosen to relate to specific age groups and children will be able to choose a single video to play on a loop or a series of films to be played in any order.
Rather than playing the original films, this fresh approach has been designed to reduce excitement while promoting trust and emotional resilience.
Speaking at a press briefing on the launch, Angela Affinita, director of brand and marketing for consumer products, games and publishing at The Walt Disney Company, told BBH: “Disney has a long legacy of bringing comfort and inspiration to severely-ill and socially-isolated children.
“In addition to creating a positive experience, we know our characters help to build trust in children.
“We visited hospitals to see working MRI rooms and learned that giving children choice was really important, so we created six very-different videos designed specifically for use in hospital settings.
“These are stylised versions of our characters and this approach means we can bring them together, which is something we cannot do with the original films.
“For example, a child can watch as Moana and Maui sit in their boat, with Heihei the rooster falling into the sea, as he does in the movie, and then Aladdin and Jasmine fly past on their magic carpet.
By bringing Disney’s characters and storytelling together with Philips’ clinical knowledge and expertise in understanding the clinical and patient needs, we will measure the impact and we are really excited to see those results later this year
“These films have been designed with no sudden movements to help reduce fear and anxiety.
“In our research we found that the original movies were all quite excitable and made children laugh and dance and sing, which you don’t want when they are undergoing MRI scans and need to keep still and relaxed.
“In this way we can provide the comfort and reassurance of a familiar character, but ensure that, from a radiology point of view, we get the best-quality images.”
Children watch the movies through a mirror placed over their eyes which reflects what is being projected onto the back wall.
And it is not just the image the child sees, but a wider perspective of the inside of the MRI bore, further helping to reduce the feeling of claustrophobia.
The device also gives a countdown to tell the child how far along they are in the imaging process and how long they may need to hold their breath for as pictures are being obtained.
It is hoped the films may help to reduce anxiety and stress, with fewer children needing to be sedated
Satter said: “Telling a child to sit still for long periods of time can be very intimidating and this is a way of making the experience better and less scary.
“By bringing Disney’s characters and storytelling together with Philips’ clinical knowledge and expertise in understanding the clinical and patient needs, we will measure the impact and we are really excited to see those results later this year.
“We are hoping to create an even-bigger impact and improve the value and benefits we can bring to hospitals.
“This is the next big step in diagnostic technology.”
Improvements in image acquisition, and the potential of a reduction in the need for sedation among children, will also help to address a number of other major challenges facing the healthcare sector.
For example, research has shown that radiology exams with advanced modalities have increased by 43% and 97% of radiology departments are unable to meet current reporting requirements.
It’s about doing what is right for the next generation that is also sustainable
In addition, unnecessary, sub-optimal and repeat imaging costs as much as $12billion a year at a time when there is a growing global shortage of experienced radiologists.
And, when questioned, imaging staff said 23% of their work was inefficient and would be better if automated; and 45% of radiologists reported symptoms of burnout.
Satter said: “It’s about doing what is right for the next generation that is also sustainable.
“We are really thinking about the end-to-end process - how can we improve productivity and lower cost at the same time as improving the patient and staff experience with solutions that connect together in a very-agnostic way.”