Health Service Focus

31.03.17

My first MRI

Source: NHE Mar/Apr 17

An innovative and free virtual reality app is significantly helping anxious children, their parents and even medical students deal with the unnerving experience of having a scan, Jonathan Ashmore (pictured), an MRI physicist at King’s College Hospital NHS FT, tells NHE.

For Jonathan Ashmore, whose office is just a stone’s throw away from the MRI scanner at King’s College Hospital, the loud whirring of the machine each day has become standard background noise. Often, however, this is accompanied by the not-so-forgettable sound of distressed children having to face their first scan. 

“I’m very acutely aware of the paediatric patients that come through. They either get given a general anaesthetic, which is what happens right outside my office, or sometimes they’ll try to scan them if they can’t get a general anaesthetic and it’s quite upsetting for them. At times, the child will start crying,” the physicist told NHE. “If you do get them in the scanner, there’s a good chance they’ll move around and the images will be a bit rubbish.” 

If even adults can get apprehensive before an MRI scan, one can only imagine how anxious children feel about the “big, scary and ominous machine”, as Ashmore put it, planted in the middle of a room they’ve never seen before. While NHS hospitals do have play specialists, whose job is to help particularly anxious patients get through stressful procedures, most can’t afford a mock scanner to provide a more comprehensive experience of what a real-life scan would feel like. 

To devise a solution, Ashmore resorted to virtual reality (VR): he first began playing around with 360-degree cameras in his spare time and then finally decided to take a leap.

“If I could take some footage from within the scanner, and if you were to view it with a VR headset, you could show it to a child beforehand and let them get accustomed to having their scan before they’re actually there,” he explained. “We could let them use it with their parents at home, or do it with them here before they come in.” 

Teaming up with play specialist Kelly Sibbons, King’s College London learning technologist and app developer Jerome Di Pietro and a resident radiographer, Ashmore’s team recorded footage of the entire MRI pathway – from the waiting area through to the MRI scanning room – from a child’s perspective: lower in height and using child-friendly, soothing voiceovers. And rather than developing an app specifically tailored to expensive Oculus Rifts, Di Pietro ensured that it could be downloaded for free in the Play Store and popped into just about any VR headset. For as little as £3, parents can buy Google Cardboards and guide their child through an MRI scan from the comfort of their homes. 

As well as helping children prepare for the daunting procedure, the innovative app, called My MRI at King’s, has also been shown to benefit students – such as undergraduate nurses studying play specialism – and even parents. 

“We’ve had 17 feedback forms so far and the responses were very good. They all agreed the app was useful in answering the child’s concerns about having their MRI and made them feel more comfortable and positive,” Ashmore explained. 

“But I was talking to a parent who had used it with their child, and they also said it’s been amazing for them as parents, they could try to explain it, but the fact that they can use the app themselves just makes them feel so much better and less scared on the day about what their child will go through.” 

The app itself has been catered for kids, but a 360-degree video filmed from an adult’s perspective will soon be made available on YouTube for other patients. Other adaptations are also more than welcome: The Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, whose staff helped develop the project, is preparing to deploy the app themselves, and Ashmore’s door is open to further collaborations.

The project’s self-evident scalability also means further iterations are already lined up: just this month, Ashmore and his team started working on a similar project designed for children preparing to undergo surgery, recording footage from the reception area up to the moment when doctors put the anaesthetic mask over the patient’s face.

For more information

W: www.tinyurl.com/NHE-My-MRI

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

national health executive tv

more videos >

latest healthcare news

Social prescribing ‘must not be seen as alternative to GP investment’

22/02/2018Social prescribing ‘must not be seen as alternative to GP investment’

Social prescribing schemes must not be seen as an alternative to investing in GP services, the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) has argued. Chair of ... more >
‘Landmark report’ to seek more compassionate response to patient concerns

22/02/2018‘Landmark report’ to seek more compassionate response to patient concerns

The government has ordered a review into how UK authorities respond to concerns about medical treatments. Speaking in the House of Commons yeste... more >
Existing schemes prove strong ties between NHS and councils ‘would change everything’

22/02/2018Existing schemes prove strong ties between NHS and councils ‘would change everything’

The chance to build a strong partnership between the NHS and local government to the benefit of communities is “the greatest opportunity in... more >

editor's comment

25/09/2017A hotbed of innovation

This edition of NHE comes hot on the heels of this year’s NHS Expo which, once again, proved to be a huge success at Manchester Central. A number of announcements were made during the event, with the health secretary naming the second wave of NHS digital pioneers, or ‘fast followers’, which follow the initial global digital e... read more >

last word

Hard to be optimistic

Hard to be optimistic

Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, warns that we must be realistic about the very real effects of continued underfunding across the health service. It’s now bey... more > more last word articles >
681 149x260 NHE Subscribe button

the scalpel's daily blog

Trusts recognise the value of the GIRFT programme – but it must remain ‘quality first’

09/02/2018Trusts recognise the value of the GIRFT programme – but it must remain ‘quality first’

Cassandra Cameron, policy advisor at NHS Providers, says trusts must be given constructive support – without fear of failure – in order for the Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) programme to succeed. The NHS GIRFT programme aims for better value in acute hospital and mental health care by using trusts’ clinical, operational and financial data for benchmarking and scrutiny of local performance. Along with efficiency, ... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >

comment

Celebrating 75 years of healthcare

14/02/2018Celebrating 75 years of healthcare

Julian Amey, chief executive of the Institute of Healthcare Engineering & Estate Management (IHEEM), outlines what the coming year holds for ... more >
The HSIB approach to maternity investigations

14/02/2018The HSIB approach to maternity investigations

Jane Rintoul, director of strategy and policy and programme director for maternity investigations at the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (... more >
Data saves lives

14/02/2018Data saves lives

Kuldeep Sohal, programme manager at Connected Yorkshire, part of Connected Health Cities, discusses how data sharing across the north is improvin... more >
Our work can help ease A&E pressures

09/02/2018Our work can help ease A&E pressures

Last year, NICE guidelines recommended that the NHS should provide more advanced paramedic practitioners (APPs) to relieve pressure on emergency ... more >
Beyond scented candles and quick fixes

07/02/2018Beyond scented candles and quick fixes

Joni Jabbal, researcher at The King’s Fund, asks why quality improvements and innovations are failing to be adopted by the NHS. There ... more >

interviews

Duncan Selbie: A step on the journey to population health

24/01/2018Duncan Selbie: A step on the journey to population health

The NHS plays a part in the country’s wellness – but it’s far from being all that matters. Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Pu... more >
Cutting through the fake news

22/11/2017Cutting through the fake news

In an era of so-called ‘fake news’ growing alongside a renewed focus on reducing stigma around mental health, Paul Farmer, chief exec... more >
Tackling infection prevention locally

04/10/2017Tackling infection prevention locally

Dr Emma Burnett, a lecturer and researcher in infection prevention at the University of Dundee’s School of Nursing and Midwifery and a boar... more >
Scan4Safety: benefits across the whole supply chain

02/10/2017Scan4Safety: benefits across the whole supply chain

NHE interviews Gillian Fox, head of eProcurement (Scan4Safety) programme at NHS Supply Chain. How has the Scan4Safety initiative evolved sin... more >
Simon Stevens: A hunger for innovation

25/09/2017Simon Stevens: A hunger for innovation

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, knows that the health service is already a world leader when it comes to medical advances – ... more >