When industrial designer Doug Dietz went to the hospital to see the inaugural scan of a brand-new MRI machine he designed, what should’ve been an exciting event quickly turned somber.
The patient coming in for a scan was a young girl. And she was petrified.
The huge, hulking machine had the girl in tears — and that was before the loud whirring noise started up( the average MRI machine is about as loud as a stone concert, and not nearly as fun ).
“As[ the family] got even closer to me, I notice the father leans down and just goes’ remember we talked about this, you can be brave, ” he recalled to GE Health, explaining that the parents looked horrified too — feeling helpless to find a way to make their daughter feeling comfy in the giant machine.
Dietz went back to the drawing board.
He was determined to use his design know-how to construct the hospital environment for kids feel more like an adventure instead of a nightmare.
After interviewing children, mothers, and doctors about what might construct the experience of getting a medical scan a little less scary, Dietz and his squad from GE Health got to work, along with partners from the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.
It wasn’t only the machines that got a makeover.
The whole quiz room required some love. From the sterile, beige decoration, to the frank instruction posters( Dietz calls them “crime scene stickers” ). Even the patter( or conversation/ instructions) from doctors and nurses required some livening up.
The team developed themes that could bring each quiz room to life.
MRI rooms, for example, became space journeys. CT scans became pirate adventures.
The redesigned MRI machine and rooms turned the kids into active participants in their own fantastic escapade narratives, with themed books given ahead of time to prepare them for the journey.
Inside the scan machines, the children get special goggles that allow them to watch a DVD during their scans — which can take anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes.
When the first newly redesigned rooms were put into action at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, they ran like a charm. Not merely did they calm the kids down and keep their minds occupied, Dietz remembered hearing one child ask her parents if she could have “another scan tomorrow.”
“That was probably the biggest reward I could ever have, ” he told the Journal Sentinel.
Dietz’s designs are so popular and successful that many other hospitals have joined in on the fun.
The project, called the Adventure Series, isn’t just something that stimulates kids smile. It allows the hospital to assistance more people.
According to an article in the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, the fear of machines and tests is so bad that Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh had to sedate over 80% of kids who needed an MRI or CT scan, prior to the updates.
Sedating and calming anxious patients takes extra time, elongating the length of each scan. If the children don’t need sedation, but don’t hold still during the duration of the test, the whole thing must continue to be redone. These issues take up precious day that is likely resulted in the hospital serving fewer patients.
After implementing the Adventure Series, the hospital only had to sedate a quarter or less of its patients, making their work far more efficient .
Making the experience less frightening for children is a big win here — for the patients and hospitals too. There’s nothing that they are able totally erase the nervousnes that comes with needing serious medical testing or care, but just knowing there are people who care enough to try is likely a big comfort to these families.
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