Royal Philips announces the launch of Philips Pediatric Coaching, a technology designed to reduce stress for children undergoing MRI scans. Using gamification and ‘buddy system’ techniques to prepare children and their parents beforehand, the technology helps guide young children through the MRI procedure to significantly enhance the patient experience. Pediatric Coaching is the latest initiative launched within the Philips Ambient Experience portfolio, featuring a wide range of dedicated solutions to help enhance the experience of patient and staff.
Acquiring high-quality images in pediatric MRI can be challenging for both radiologists and the child undergoing the scan. Fear of the unfamiliar environment of an MRI system can be stressful for a younger child, making them agitated and unable to lie still, which is required for good image quality.

As a result, scans are often performed under sedation or general anesthesia, which according to parents, carries disadvantages such as post-scan irritability for the child and concerns of repeated anesthesia exposure. Having to resort to such measures or deal with a conscious but distressed child is challenging for hospital staff, increasing procedure time and costs. By helping to empower children during an MRI scan, the Philips Pediatric Coaching solution overcomes many of these issues.

“As adults, many of us can experience anxiety and stress during an MRI exam, and this is especially true for our youngest patients. By removing factors that can trigger stress, we are enhancing the patient engagement experience for pediatric patients to help improve outcomes,” says Werner Satter, general manager of Philips Healthcare Environment and Experience Design.

“With Philips Pediatric Coaching, we deploy gamification to help children better prepare for their MRI scan in a non-threatening environment at home, interacting with the same character and voice like Ollie the Elephant and friends, who also coaches them at the hospital, and can even coach them during the MRI procedure itself,” Satter adds.

To prepare for their MRI scan, children are provided with a gamified mobile app that familiarizes the child and their parents with an MRI procedure in a playful way. The app also introduces the child to a virtual ‘buddy’ they can role-play with to perform an MRI scan—for example, pretending to be the system operator and helping their buddy to lie still it get the best picture. The app also uses augmented reality to allow the child to explore the MRI system at home before entering the hospital. Many parents express a willingness to help prepare their child ahead of time, and by playing alongside their child, they can also learn more about the procedure.

When the family visits the radiology department, the same familiar virtual buddy interacts with the child as they play with Philips’ newly enhanced ‘Kitten Scanner’—a small-scale, educational scanner that allows children to scan various toy animals and view what’s inside each animal for a better understanding of the upcoming procedure.

When the child has their scan, their buddy’s familiar voice and image are projected onto Philips’ Ambient Experience in-bore Connect solution, to guide the child through the scan procedure by coaching them, for example, on when and how to hold their breath. With the new Pediatric Coaching Solution, parents are reassured, and the child is well prepared, helping ensure the high-quality images needed for an accurate diagnosis of the child’s condition are captured, according to Philips officials.