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MRI Scan for Children - I

Helping children with a stress-free MRI experience

Going under an MRI scan can be a daunting experience for many people. This is even more so when it comes to children. Because they must remain still for up to 50 minutes and endure the frightening loud noises the machine makes, they are anaesthetised for every session so that they can be more relaxed. But this is not ideal. We were asked to help Phillips provide a more enjoyable experience for this young group of patients.

For the last few years, Philips Medical and Philips Research have been working on developing a product that would help children and parents prepare for an MRI scan. We were challenged to help Philips educate and engage children between 6 to 9 years old in the MRI procedure, in order to reduce the daunting scanning experience and to minimise the use of anaesthesia.

Field/ Qualitative Research

We started the research phase by learning about the MRI procedure, what it consists of, how anxiety influences children and how doctors approach this subject. We did this by interviewing experts from Philips in Eindhoven and by observing an MRI procedure at the Philips Medical Centre in Best.

It soon became clear that, in order to make it a stress-free experience, both children and parents needed to be educated about the ins and outs of the procedure.

Doctor Ben to the Rescue

Our final concept focusses on a service design solution: MyMRI. The concept mixes physical and online experiences with as main goal to reduce a child’s anxiety stemming from the scanning procedure.

It begins with a package received by the parent from the hospital after getting an MRI scan referral for their child. Inside the package, they can find a 3D mini MRI puzzle and an instructive leaflet.

In order to make it more playful, we created the fictional character Doctor Ben, who takes the child on a journey to become an MRI doctor and guides the child throughout the whole process. After drawing and painting the 3D MRI puzzle, the child can build it with the help of Doctor Ben. The 3D MRI puzzle can be uploaded to the MyMRI app, where the child will get familiar with every step of the MRI process by playing games, completing tasks, and interacting with Dr Ben.

Children get acquainted with the MRI scan machine, its size, the noises it makes, among other curiosities. Our thought-process is that the more familiar the child is with the procedure the less daunting of an experience it will be for them. Also, by bringing elements of play, the child may face the whole process as a game – which will contribute to a lighter mood and a less stressful experience.

What we propose is a design solution that that supports the child-patient from the moment they know they have to undergo an MRI until after the completion of the MRI scan. We transformed it into a playful game that educates both children and parents on an upcoming MRI scan. Our final recommendation is to involve parents even more in the process, as they play an important role in children's behaviour.

Also check another of our projects for Philips tackling a similar problem-space.

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