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Ambient Experience: Enhancing the patient’s encounter

White Paper
Philips CT Marketing Philips Healthcare USA


Ambient Experience is the creative combination of supporting multi-media technologies and architectural design focused on enhancing patient experience and compliance. AE allows patients to shift their attention from the pending examination and possible results to an anticipation of the AE experience. AE is the culmination of broad and in-depth range of patient, technologist, nursing, and industry expert inputs suggesting benefits in reducing anxiety through design and allowing patients to become active and playful participants as they prepare for and undergo CT scanning1.


For many patients, having an imaging procedure can be stressful. Anticipating, traditional sterile and cold scanning rooms, procedure unknowns and possible results can be unnerving, especially for pediatric patients. When asked, patients wished that radiology providers would develop imaging suites that distract them or their children, if only for a short time, from considering the clinical dilemma - through an easy to experience, interactive imaging environment that allows them to relax and be more compliant.


This request has long been known and well documented through the pioneering work of Angelica Thieriot, founder of Planetree2. The Planetree philosophy questions why commendable high-tech environments are often associated with traumatic hospital experiences. A primary objective of Planetree is to personalize, demystify, and humanize the healthcare experience for patients and their families. Advocating a patient-centered experience through the removal of architectural barriers, uncluttered environments, and promotion of facility spaces designed for solitude, social activity, and sense of safe shelter.


Aligned with the Planetree philosophy, a primary goal of Ambient Experience is to reduce pre-scan anxiety by helping the patient develop positive imagery of a safe imaging environment. Patients are prompted to take control of the imaging environment through the selection of age appropriate themes making the patient an active participant and initiating their anticipation of the Ambient Experience.


According to Joan Saba, AIA, FACHA of the S/L/A/M Collaborative of Glastonbury, Conn., specializing in progressive healthcare facility design, "The five senses are attended to, understanding that gentle sounds rather than blaring overhead pages, soothing fabrics rather than cold, plastic upholstery, a view to the outside while you wait rather than a blank wall, knowing where you have to go rather than wandering aimlessly from sign to sign through a labyrinth of corridors, incandescent lighting vs. glaring fluorescent tubing, the ability to research and find information readily rather than wait for it to be spoon-fed to you -- all of these things help to give you some control and make you calm."2


The Ambient Experience begins upon entry to the Radiology Patient Registration Area, where the patient is introduced to AE in two distinct ways. The first is through a large flat screen monitor located in the registration waiting area that features a continuous loop of AE themes. The second is during or after patient registration, where the patient sits with a CT registration or administrative assistant, who introduces AE and prompts the patient to select their personal AE theme. Upon theme selection and prior to escort to the CT scan room, the patient is given an AE RFID. The RFID is a small rectangular card the size of a hotel room key that has been imprinted with a picture of the selected AE theme and contains a radiofrequency chip used to initiate the AE.


Upon arrival at the CT scan room, the patient finds a CT scanner located in a room with softly colored walls and lighting. However, the patient will immediately appreciate a key difference between the AE room and traditional scanning room in that the AE room features rounded room corners, accessory equipment recessed into and behind false walls, and a sculpted ceiling. Together, these foundational build out techniques create a softer and more welcoming room.


Upon entry into the room, the patient is prompted to insert their AE RFID into the card reader located just inside the door to the examination room. The room immediately begins the transformation process as the walls and ceiling assume a color palette matched to the patient's AE theme through the automatic and instant adjustment of recessed theater lighting. Once the visual foundation has been established, the AE experience takes off through the projection of the patient selected theme upon the wall and ceiling. Inviting the patient to enter the room and recline upon the scanning couch. In addition to the visual invitation, is the auditory stimulation through theme matched sounds. For example, an underwater theme is accompanied by sounds of ocean waves and seagulls.


For the technologist, pre-imaging room preparation initiates the positive imagery identification process to reduce anxiety. Patient selected themes further increase compliance through patient participation and control and enhance the in room experience as the patient focus is shifted from traditional sterile imaging environments to the Ambient Experience - ultimately aimed at improving compliance, reducing retakes, shortening total room time, and minimizing dose and contrast burdens. The technologist can focus his attention on executing a flawless scan.


According to David R. Thistlethwaite, AIA, ACHA, principal of Thistlethwaite Architectural Group in San Francisco, "people are stressed when in a healthcare environment. They are either worried about their own health or the health of a family member. Improving the overall design and interior makes the setting less intimidating and more familiar. Simple things like color, texture, natural light and natural materials can create a more relaxing, healing environment. These are many of the same things that people are used to in their own homes and help make them more comfortable in the healthcare environment."2


For pediatric patients, decreasing apprehension and improving compliance is paramount in the production of high quality diagnostic images. For CT, with the use of ionizing radiation, improving compliance generally results in fewer "retakes" and lower delivered radiation. Additional proposed benefits include lower sedation rates and associated nursing involvement.


For the radiology administrator, CT imaging is a high volume, high demand service considered the gateway to the management of a wide variety of in and out-patients of all ages. Annual procedure volume growth requires administrators to look for supporting technologies and service solutions likely to improve workflow and throughput. High service demand is complicated by an outpatient imaging service arena that is highly competitive. In addition, such competitive markets find many patients selecting an imaging center of their choice based on reputation and location convenience.


Saba suggests, "patient choice and rising competition are driving facilities to embrace patient-centered care". Saba presented a patient satisfaction survey comparing 12 facilities pre and post Planetree adoption and found significant improvements in patient satisfaction, willingness to recommend, and likelihood of returning to the facility. This mindset is also driving imaging service providers to develop patient-centric processes that provide direct-to-consumer and clinical benefits to differentiate themselves from their competition. Solutions must be affordable and justify themselves through incremental scans or market share.


Ambient Experience by Philips Medical offers a unique patient-centric support service focused on manifesting consistently high exam quality, particularly with pediatric and specialty exams requiring extended room time or benefiting from relaxed states. Ambient Experience is available as an option that provides turnkey support from site planning through build out, installation, and training.


Ambient Experience goes beyond simple static scenery to present a 3D multi-media experience, facilitating a patient-centric imaging experience designed to improve compliance and service desirability. Pre-scan anticipation and association of positive imagery along with friendly architectural features work together to improve compliance resulting in fewer retakes, and shortened total room times to ultimately increase throughput. Pro forma analysis suggests that Ambient Experience can realize a positive payback through as few as 20 patients per month. Further benefits are derived through image quality and patient satisfaction gains influencing referral satisfaction and ultimately likely to increase future referral demand.


  1. The Ambient Experience in Pediatric Radiology, Journal of Radiology Nursing submission
  2. Healing Environments, Kelly M. Pyrek, Today's Surgicenter, 2006

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Jul 9, 2010

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White Paper
abdomen, Ambient Experience, Body, Cardiac, Head, Musculoskeletal, Neck, Neuro, pediatric abdomen, pediatric cardiac, pediatric CTA, pediatric head, pediatric neck, pediatric orthopedics, pediatric spine, pediatric thorax, Thorax, Total Spine, Vascular

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