The goal of the initiative is to enhance the experience for these children by creating a friendly atmosphere that dispels the uncertainty and fear usually associated with these types of procedures. Alleviating anxiety and fear in the children also reduces the stress levels of their parents and carers, improving everyone’s experience of the procedure. Key features of the initiative include integrated ambient design to create a friendly environment for the children, plus interactive educational and gamification elements.
‘Imatgina’ is based on three key elements:
The importance of these elements were identified through feedback from families and healthcare professionals at the Hospital Vall d´Hebrón. The areas of the hospital included in this initiative are paediatric radiology and ultrasound, including the entrance corridors to the various different consultation rooms and the CT scanner, which for the benefit of the Imatgina initiative has been transformed into a spaceship.
Diagnostic imaging tests are a well-known source of anxiety and fear for children and their parents and carers. In addition to the stress generated by having a health problem and the uncertainty surrounding diagnosis, there is a general lack of knowledge about the tests and the technology used, which can be intimidating to children.
To investigate these issues, interviews were conducted with children and parents, and focus groups were held with professionals, to find out more about the circumstances that surround paediatric radiology tests. The findings showed that elements such as a lack of information and the absence of a friendly and fun environment can make these tests a negative experience.
“This project improves the experience of pediatric patients during radiology exams, because they are actively involved in the process,” said Dr Manuel Escobar, Clinical Head of Image Diagnosis at Hospital Vall D’Hebron. “This benefits the patients, their families and the healthcare professionals, who deal with more relaxed patients with positive expectations towards the imaging tests they have to undergo. Thanks to this initiative we managed to reduce by 75 percent the anesthesia dose that is often administered to patients when they feel edgy, preventing tests to be done under the appropriate conditions.”
Patient information and education is a key element of ‘Imatgina’, which includes ScanKids – a gaming application targeted at children aged between 6 and 12 specially designed for the purpose. The aim of the application is to show children what to expect and reduce their fears about the tests. It shows them, in terms that are easy for children to understand, which steps they have to follow and what they can expect from each test, using 3D animations of the rooms and diagnostic imaging technology. The app can be downloaded at home before the appointment.
ScanKids includes the five most common imaging-based diagnostic imaging tests for children in hospitals – X-ray, CT, MRI, and ultrasound scans. Children, guided by their parents, carers or healthcare professionals, can select the test and the part of the anatomy to be imaged. From this point on, a character, either a boy or girl, will take them through all the steps to be followed. After explaining the tests, there are two anatomy-based games to entertain young patients and enable them to learn. Information about downloading the application in Spanish and Catalan will be made available to children and parents as soon as their hospital appointment is arranged.
The atmosphere created in the waiting room and the CT scan room was considered crucial, so an outer-space theme, based on the same characters used in ScanKids, was chosen to distract kids away from the typical white walls and lights of a hospital environment. Illustrations transport them to another galaxy, where together with the characters from the videogame, they become astronauts exploring and learning about their body. The CT scanner itself becomes a spaceship, which combined with the smart lighting in the room, transforms the child’s experience into a magical and spectacular adventure. This is the first time this comprehensive concept will be used.
The ‘Imatgina’ project has been funded by the Philips Foundation and developed by the CurArte Foundation, backed by the expertise of healthcare professionals from the Hospital Vall d’Hebrón and Philips’ experience in healthcare and lighting.