Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) exams have never been associated with comfort. Lying still in a noisy, confined space for prolonged periods of time makes even the toughest patients anxious. Medical imaging manufacturers are working to relieve this anxiety by enhancing patient comfort. Siemens Healthineers, Philips Healthcare, and GE Healthcare prominently displayed their latest patient comfort innovations at RSNA 2018.
On the RSNA exhibition floor, Siemens Healthineers showcased Innovision, an MRI in-bore “infotainment” system that allows patients to enjoy various forms of media while making the bore appear virtually larger. Taking center stage at the Philips Healthcare booth was the company’s latest MRI machine, the Ingenia Ambition 1.5T X. The new Ambition provides an immersive audio-visual experience to help calm patients and guide them through exams. Prominently displayed at the GE Healthcare booth were AIR Technology coils. These coils are designed to be “both comforting and comfortable” by securely wrapping around patients during their MRI scans. Each of these three companies also highlighted advanced technologies, like accelerated MRI workflows and biosensors to reduce scan times.
These product enhancements were certainly impressive, but why did MRI patient comfort emerge as a major RSNA theme?
Increased patient comfort leads to better clinical and economic outcomes
The anxiety induced by an MRI scan should not be downplayed. Some patients are so anxious that they will skip or cancel their MRI scans, thus delaying further diagnosis and treatment. While not every patient can be put at ease, product innovations for patient comfort can facilitate a better experience for some of the millions of Americans who will have an MRI scan this year. A comfortable in-bore environment helps patients remain still during scans, reducing the need for re-scans. Fewer re-scans leads to better clinical outcomes, faster patient throughput, and lowered costs.
The patient experience is becoming an important metric for healthcare providers
In the age of the empowered and informed patient, the clinical and economic benefits of comfortable MRI scans are more important than ever before. Patients tend to “shop around” before scheduling their MRI scans, forcing hospitals to compete with outpatient imaging clinics for business. Patient comfort innovations offer a competitive advantage to healthcare providers. Faster patient throughput reduces wait times. A comfortable in-bore environment improves the overall experience. Both benefits lead to increased patient satisfaction, expressed through scorecards, online reviews, and repeat customers.
Patient comfort will remain a key trend in the medical imaging market
Patient comfort is becoming a major priority for healthcare providers and the patients themselves. Medical imaging manufacturers have responded to this trend through product innovation. The latest MRI technologies displayed at RSNA focused on creating more comfortable MRI scans to reduce the need for re-scans, lower exam times, and improve patient satisfaction. Don’t expect the patient comfort design trend to fade away. With any luck, MRI scans of the future will be nothing more than virtual walks in the park.
A full assessment of the global market for MRI is available from IHS Markit. The seventh edition of the MRI Equipment Report provides in-depth analysis of the key trends, growth drivers and inhibitors in the MRI equipment market. This report identifies growth rates by country. Includes coverage of the refurbished MRI market, installed base, and bore sizes for 1.5T closed and 3.0T closed. Market sizing by product type is also provided in revenues ($), unit shipments and average selling prices, with annual forecasts to 2022.
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