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Philips launches Pediatric Coaching to enhance MR patient experience

Kitten Scanner, part of Philips Pediatric Coaching

Royal Philips recently announced the launch of Philips Pediatric Coaching, a holistic solution designed to be a less stressful experience for parents and their children undergoing MRI scans. Using gamification and “buddy system” techniques to prepare children and their parents beforehand, the solution helps guide young children through the MRI procedure to significantly enhance the patient experience. Pediatric Coaching is the latest initiative launched within the Philips Ambient Experience portfolio, featuring a wide range of dedicated solutions to help enhance the experience of patient and staff.

Acquiring high-quality images in pediatric MRI can be challenging for radiologists and the child undergoing the scan. Fear of the unfamiliar environment of an MRI system can be stressful for a younger child, making them agitated and unable to lie still, which is required for good image quality. As a result, scans are often performed under sedation or general anesthesia, which according to parents, carries disadvantages such as post-scan irritability for the child and concerns of repeated anesthesia exposure[2]. Having to resort to such measures or deal with a conscious but distressed child is challenging for hospital staff, increasing procedure time and costs. By helping to empower children during an MRI scan, the Philips Pediatric Coaching solution overcomes many of these issues.

“As adults, many of us can experience anxiety and stress during an MRI exam, and this is especially true for our youngest patients. By removing factors that can trigger stress, we are enhancing the patient engagement experience for pediatric patients to help improve outcomes,” said Werner Satter, general manager Philips Healthcare Environment and Experience Design. “With Philips Pediatric Coaching, we deploy gamification to help children better prepare for their MRI scan in a non-threatening environment at home, interacting with the same character and voice like Ollie the Elephant and friends, who also coaches them at the hospital, and can even coach them during the MRI procedure itself.”

To prepare for their MRI scan, children are provided with a gamified mobile app that familiarizes the child and their parents with an MRI procedure in a playful way. The app also introduces the child to a virtual “buddy” they can role-play with to perform an MRI scan – for example, pretending to be the system operator and helping their buddy to lie still in order to get the best picture. The app also uses augmented reality to allow the child to explore the MRI system at home before entering the hospital. Many parents express a willingness to help prepare their child ahead of time, and by playing alongside their child, they can also learn more about the procedure.

When the family visits the radiology department, the same familiar virtual buddy interacts with the child as they play with Philips’ newly enhanced “Kitten Scanner” – a small-scale educational scanner that allows children to scan various toy animals and view what’s inside each animal for a better understanding of the upcoming procedure. When the child has their scan, their buddy’s familiar voice and image are projected onto Philips’ Ambient Experience in-bore Connect solution, to guide the child through the scan procedure by coaching them, for example, on when and how to hold their breath. With the new Pediatric Coaching Solution, parents are reassured, and the child is empowered and well prepared, helping ensure the high-quality images needed for an accurate diagnosis of the child’s condition are captured.

This announcement follows a similar child patient-centric initiative between Philips and the Walt Disney Company EMEA earlier this year to test the effects of custom-made animations, including specially-made Disney stories, within Philips’ Ambient Experience hospital environments. An overview of breakthrough innovations in pediatric imaging to help improve care for younger patients, including how to reduce pediatric patients’ fear and anxiety, is also discussed in a recent blog article by Dr. Julia Dmitrieva, KOL engagement leader for precision diagnosis at Philips.

The Philips Pediatric Coaching Solution is being launched at the 2021 International Pediatric Radiology Congress (IPR 2021) in Rome, Italy. Next to the MRI journey, Philips also plans to make its Pediatric Coaching available in other diagnostic imaging modalities such as CT. The solution will also be demonstrated in the Philips booth at the upcoming 2021 Radiological Society of North America Annual Meeting (RSNA 2021), in Chicago, Illinois.

[1] Rung SB, Christensen, NL, Jensen K, Jensen IbE. Children centered care: Minimizing the need for anesthesia with a multifaceted concept for MRI in children aged 4–6. European Journal of Radiology. 2018;107:183–187.
[2] Walker, B., Conklin, H. M., Anghelescu, D. L., Hall, L. P., Reddick, W. E., Ogg, R., & Jacola, L. M. (2018). Parent perspectives and preferences for strategies regarding nonsedated MRI scans in a pediatric oncology population. Supportive Care in Cancer, 26(6), 1815-1824.

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