Greg Freiherr, Industry Consultant

Greg Freiherr has reported on developments in radiology since 1983. He runs the consulting service, The Freiherr Group.

Sponsored Content | Blog | Greg Freiherr, Industry Consultant | Computed Tomography (CT) | August 03, 2017

How Putting Patients At Ease Can Improve Care

Children awaiting imaging studies play at an interactive wall in Children’s Hospital of Georgia

Children awaiting imaging studies play at an interactive wall in Children’s Hospital of Georgia.

It looked like the autistic child at the Children's Hospital of Georgia at Augusta University (AU) Health would have to be sedated. Showing extreme apprehension, the young boy flatly refused to even go into the CT suite, staff recalled. That changed after the child "scanned" a foam elephant with the Philips KittenScanner.

"It has a way of explaining things that children can understand," said Julie G. Moretz, AU Health assistant vice president of Patient- and Family-Centered Care.

The KittenScanner can tell several different stories, depending on the foam toy — elephant, chicken, alligator or robot — chosen by the patient. Reading the computer chip embedded in the foam elephant, the KittenScanner told the autistic child the faux animal's "tummy ache" was caused by fish in its drinking water.

Just as the KittenScanner found the cause of the elephant's troubles, a technologist said, the CAT scanner in the next room might help doctors figure out what was bothering the little boy.

The pretend CT scanner, which stands about as tall as the children who play with it, is an example of patient- and family-centered care at AU Health in Augusta, Georgia. As implemented in the pediatric imaging department, this type of service helps both the efficiency of staff and the patient experience, Moretz said.

 

Putting the Patient First

Happy and comfortable patients cooperate, which is important for creating a better patient experience, as well as keeping patients safe, Moretz explained. They hold still, so motion artifacts don't degrade images, which can reduce the need for more scans. Their exams are quick, which optimizes patient throughput. And working together with patients and their parents to keep them happy and safe helps Children’s Hospital of Georgia keep its patients coming back.

"Anytime we can make them feel like they're being heard and included as part of the health care team, then it’s not so scary to come back," she said.

A couple years ago, when redesigning the pediatric imaging suite, a multidisciplinary team of experts from the radiology department and the AU Health-Philips alliance completed an in-depth, on-site analysis and gathered input from patients, parents and staff to define clinical, functional and emotional requirements for the new pediatric radiology suite. Designers considered surveys detailing what patients and parents liked and didn't like; spoke with radiology staff; even wheeled architects on gurneys through the department to give them a "patients' eye view."

AU Health staff noticed, for example, that warm blankets make scans easier on the patient. Designers moved the blanket warmer closer, so technologists didn't have to leave patients unattended. Ceilings were raised so clouds and forests could be painted above the equipment; "non-hospital" lights were installed with colors that could be chosen by the patients; and an interactive "video wall" was wired into the patient "waiting lounge."

With its 80 different distractions, the wall is the centerpiece of the Children’s Hospital imaging suite. Children hop up and down to pop balloons or pick apples from trees. They watch waves ripple across a puddle; corn kernels pop; fireworks explode.

"You will always see a child standing there playing," Moretz said. "You can also see adults standing there playing — looking around to see if anybody is watching them."

 

Calm Before The Exam

Like the wall and other gadgets in the pediatric imaging department, the KittenScanner engages patients. It takes the mystery out of the CAT scan; empowers children with information; and distracts them.

Little things can have a big effect, like "kid-sizing" counter tops and tables; or letting children control the color of lights. The parents of pediatric patients "feel better," said Moretz, when they see their children relax.

Not surprisingly, children who must return to Children’s Hospital of Georgia for follow-up exams look forward to their visits, she said. So engaging is the video wall, for example, that some patients hesitate when called for their exams. Staff have a fix that fits the character of their patient-centric approach.

"Staff tell them, wait till you see what you can do in the next room," Moretz said.

The award-winning redesign included extending the upbeat atmosphere of the waiting lounge to "waiting nooks." Located just outside the exam rooms, these nooks are where patients and their families prepare for imaging exams. Children can choose non-hospital lighting — pink, lime green or "rainbow." And they can play sounds, like wind blowing or waves crashing.

This gives children a sense of control exactly when they need it most. The proximity of the nooks is similarly calming. "While a parent may be with their child during an exam, it makes the experience better (when they) know that other family members are right outside the door," said Moretz, who noted that family presence is an important aspect of patient- and family-centered care.

Touch panels in the walls of the imaging suites encourage pediatric patients to choose the lighting and sounds during their exams. And, of course, those nervous about getting a CAT scan can play with the KittenScanner beforehand.

Vendors, like all stakeholders at AU Health, must respect "patient voices and our patient- and family-centered values," Moretz said. Vendors have to be prepared to "operationalize the mission and the vision that we expect as our standard of care," she said. "That is where the philosophy of patient- and family-centered care comes into practice."

For more information about Philips patient- and staff-centered imaging solutions, visit www.philips.com/radiology

Related Content

News | Radiation Therapy | May 06, 2021
May 6, 2021 — Individuals living with severe...
Research finds that a commonly used risk-prediction model for lung cancer does not accurately identify high-risk Black patients who could benefit from early screening

Getty Images

News | Lung Imaging | May 05, 2021
May 5, 2021 — Lung cancer is the third most common cance
Spectral DLR enables improved assessment of lumen stenosis in the presence of calcified plaque. Interactive monochromatic image display enables improved opacification of the injected contrast with low keV images and reduced calcium blooming artifacts with high keV images

Spectral DLR enables improved assessment of lumen stenosis in the presence of calcified plaque. Interactive monochromatic image display enables improved opacification of the injected contrast with low keV images and reduced calcium blooming artifacts with high keV images. The range of monochromatic energy levels (35-135 keV) can be visualized in real time through an image slider in the application that can be integrated in to a PACS.

News | Cardiac Imaging | April 21, 2021
April 21, 2021 — Meeting the growing cardiovascular needs of healthcare providers today, ...
Low-dose #CT #lung #scans are used to #screen for #lung_cancer in high-risk people such as heavy #smokers

Getty Images

News | Lung Imaging | April 16, 2021
April 17, 2021 — A deep learning algorithm accurately predicts the risk of death from...
CDC and FDA Call for Pause on Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine Due to Rare Blood Clots #COVID19 #Janssen
Feature | Coronavirus (COVID-19) | April 15, 2021 | By Dave Fornell
April 15, 2021 — The U.S.
IV contrast-enhanced 2-mSv 4-mm-thick transverse and coronal (b) CT images show inflamed diverticula (arrows), segmental colonic wall thickening, and adjacent pericolic fat stranding. Image courtesy of the American Roentgen Ray Society (ARRS), American Journal of Roentgenology (AJR)

IV contrast-enhanced 2-mSv 4-mm-thick transverse and coronal (b) CT images show inflamed diverticula (arrows), segmental colonic wall thickening, and adjacent pericolic fat stranding. Image courtesy of the American Roentgen Ray Society (ARRS), American Journal of Roentgenology (AJR)

News | Computed Tomography (CT) | April 09, 2021
April 9, 2021 — According to an open-acc...
Axial chest CT examination in a 54-year-old participant. A, On the axial noncontrast chest CT image, the pectoralis muscle (PM) area was segmented and measured in the section above the aortic arch. B, The subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) area as the area between the PM and the skin surface on the same section was also measured and the attenuation of pixels in the SAT area was used to determine the individualized threshold for the intermuscular adipose tissue (IMAT). C, The IMAT within the PM was segmented

Axial chest CT examination in a 54-year-old participant. A, On the axial noncontrast chest CT image, the pectoralis muscle (PM) area was segmented and measured in the section above the aortic arch. B, The subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) area as the area between the PM and the skin surface on the same section was also measured and the attenuation of pixels in the SAT area was used to determine the individualized threshold for the intermuscular adipose tissue (IMAT). C, The IMAT within the PM was segmented as the areas with Hounsfield units below this threshold for the IMAT (arrowheads). Image courtesy of the Radiological Society of North America

News | Computed Tomography (CT) | April 07, 2021
April 7, 2021 — Body composition information derived from routine chest...
#emphysema #marijuana 2021 ARRS Virtual Annual Meeting research reveals increased rates of emphysema in marijuana smokers, compared to both non-smokers and tobacco-only smokers, as well as greater rates of paraseptal emphysema

Getty Images

News | Lung Imaging | April 02, 2021
April 2, 2021 — A Scientific E-Poster to be presented at the 2021...
Ultimately, because LYFS-CT may exclude minority patients who could benefit from LCS and underestimate the benefits of LCS, the authors of this AJR article suggested "augmenting LCS eligibility for minority patients using combinations of models"--specifically, the PLCOm2012 model in conjunction with LYFS-CT and USPSTF-2020. Image courtesy of American Roentgen Ray Society (ARRS), American Journal of Roentgenology (AJR)

Ultimately, because LYFS-CT may exclude minority patients who could benefit from LCS and underestimate the benefits of LCS, the authors of this AJR article suggested "augmenting LCS eligibility for minority patients using combinations of models"--specifically, the PLCOm2012 model in conjunction with LYFS-CT and USPSTF-2020. Image courtesy of American Roentgen Ray Society (ARRS), American Journal of Roentgenology (AJR)

News | Lung Imaging | March 29, 2021
March 29, 2021 — According to ARRS'