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From projectors to better system design, comfort comes to the MR suite

por Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | October 14, 2019
From the October 2019 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

HealthCare Business News spoke to several companies that are investing in ways to improve patient comfort. Some are introducing audio systems, visual aids, themed environments and infotainment accessories while others focus on the design of the MR system itself.

MR suite or tropical oasis?
One of the most immersive and dramatic ways to improve the patient experience in an MR suite is to create a themed environment. That could mean everything from calming, ambient lighting to turning the exam room into a tropical beach oasis. Transporting patients out of the medical atmosphere and into a setting that feels welcoming and inviting is an effective way to combat anxiety.

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Companies like Dream Think Imagine (DTI) and Character Farms specialize in creating 3D facades that wrap around MR scanners like a skin to transform them into something almost unrecognizable. Whether it be a sandcastle theme in a pediatric clinic or a more subtle ambiance blending ambient colors and lighting for adults, changing the atmosphere can help patients feel more peaceful in medical settings.

“The most meaningful and effective way to really curb anxiety is to create a total immersion experience,” said Mark Sullivan, president of Character Farms. “[When] the patient walks into the room and the first thing they see is a place, not a machine.”

Character Farms customizes their designs to fit individual scanners. The facades, which are held in place by wooden dowels and industrial-size Velcro, can be broken down into four or five pieces.

“Having a calming or fun environment versus a sterile, scary one can be the difference in how a patient rates their experience, and the patient experience is a critical component for healthcare in today’s society,” said Sullivan.

A 2011 study published in the Health Environments Research and Design Journal revealed that introducing distraction conditions leads to calmer behavior and less movement. It also found that these conditions are significant “attention grabbers” for children.

Projectors, televisions or goggles?
Another way to take the intimidation out of the MR environment is by providing an escape via digital entertainment. Avotec recently introduced a new projector called the SV-6060, which Canon has integrated into its MR Theater offering.

Avotec chose to offer a projector instead of a television monitor or goggles because they believe it provides more flexibility in the image size.

“When you put a screen at the end of the bore and have a projector projecting on it, it’s a pretty immersive experience,” said Paul Bullwinkel, president of Avotec. “When a patient goes in with a head coil, there’s a mirror that they can use to look at the projected image.”

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