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A better MR experience is just good business

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | September 27, 2021
From the September 2021 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

“We camouflage the sterile and intimidating medical environment into a non-threatening, fun and familiar place in which children feel comfortable,” said Mark Sullivan, president of Character Farms.

Another company setting out to give a much-needed facelift to the MR suite is ComfortHealthSolutions, which also dresses equipment in custom skins and offers unique lighting, projections and displays to help suspend reality. Founder and CEO, David Mathieu, says the company’s ImmerActive 360 interactive projection system with ambient lighting helps improve outcomes and reduce repeat scans with the use of customized environments patients choose based on images and designs they associate with comfort and tranquility.

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“In addition to fewer cancellations and delays, MR patient experience solutions can help patients and providers save on the costs of scans,” said Mathieu. “For example, less anxiety increases patient satisfaction scores for exams, which in turn leads to higher inflow of reimbursement from the government to providers.”

A 2015 study conducted by the Harbor Review Medical Center in Seattle and published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology found that the average MR scanner loses as much as $115,000 annually in revenue due to the need to reimage patients due to motion artifacts. Across 192 completed clinical exams in the research, roughly 20% had to be repeated. According to Sullivan, that number would be even higher today.

While sedation is a reliable way to keep anxious patients, or young patients, from needing repeat scans, it comes at a cost. A study published in Radiology found that the average cost of an outpatient MR scan in 2011 was $665 without anesthesia and $902 with it. Other research, according to the ACR, suggests that pediatric MR costs for sedated and anesthetized patients are, respectively, 3.24 and 9.56 times higher than MR costs for patients who stay awake.

To decrease reliance on sedation, Resonance Technology offers providers the VR-based CinemaVision A/V system, in which the patient dons a pair of 3D goggles and a noise attenuating headset that enables them to watch TV or movies throughout the scan. The experience, according to the company, is similar to watching a high-resolution 62-inch screen from five feet away.

“Studies have shown patients who are using the goggles are less likely to move during the MR procedure,” said Mokhtar Ziarati, president of Resonance Technology. “By offering goggle-based movie patient entertainment versus sedation, it decreases appointment cancellation due to the claustrophobia and increases patient referrals. Patients will prefer the MR site with the goggle solution.”

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