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Imaging children

by Kristen Fischer, DOTmed News | June 25, 2014
Cozy Camp PET/CT at
Lurie Children’s Chicago,
courtesy GE Healthcare.
From the June 2014 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

The claustrophobia-inducing closeness of an MR or PET/CT coupled with the loudness of the machine can create a stressful experience for anyone. But imagine being a child and having to undergo these procedures, perhaps regularly; it’s a scary experience for any kid, as well as the parent who has to watch their child struggle to stay still so the machine can acquire an accurate image.

But the health care industry has picked up on this issue, and is introducing machines and other best practices to try to alleviate some of the stress.

The look and feel of comfort
GE’s Adventure Series line debuted in pilot facilities during 2008 and has taken off since. The company now has the child-friendly machines in about 50 rooms in more than a dozen health care facilities throughout the U.S. Some rooms are completely decked out with wall décor that ties into the themes, and mood lighting and aromatherapy to accompany the specific adventure. Others offer distraction techniques like video games, televisions or soothing lighting. The trend of catering to patient comfort, however facilities are doing it, is becoming more common.

In some cases, the experience begins in the waiting room. For example, children may be given coloring books that introduce characters that are part of the story before their procedure.

Dr. Donald Frush, a pediatric radiologist with Duke Medicine, said more hospitals are catering to the unique needs of pediatric patients with warmer settings and more accommodating personnel.

“Themed rooms can reduce anxiety for the patient and parent, but also provide a better work experience or work culture for the staff who work in such areas,” Frush said. Training technologists and nurses can also improve the child’s experience and caregivers’ and should not be dismissed as unimportant.”

A human-centered imaging experience
The adventure rooms at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC are a good example of these kid-friendly imaging havens.

GE offers pre-planned themes, such as its Cozy Camp PET/CT outdoor adventure, the Pirate Island CT and an MR machine set in a safari theme. These aren’t just machines with decals on them — there is matching wall décor and related sounds and scents to make imaging more of an adventure.

At the University of California San Francisco hospital, GE is working on three rooms for pediatric patients. Clients can choose one of the established Adventure Series themes, or work with the OEM to originate a custom environment—in this case, the child is going through a cable car adventure as they move through the imaging process that pays homage to the region. In another one, the child walks on a dock to board a boat (really, the MR machine), then they are off on a journey on the San Francisco Bay. In the third, they’re taken to a Muir Woods-inspired natural sanctuary.

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