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When it comes to investing in technology that improves the quality of medical procedures while also enhancing patients’ comfort level and satisfaction, Inspira Health — a system comprised of three hospitals and more than 150 access points throughout southern New Jersey — has always embraced the opportunity. This has never been clearer than with the upcoming introduction of Inspira’s thoughtfully designed new MRI technology, which promises to deliver better and faster-quality imaging while significantly reducing patient fear and discomfort.
Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI technology, uses a large magnetic field and radio frequency waves to capture signals created by protons in the body and see inside human anatomy. But while the breakthrough approach delivers high-resolution images and involves no ionizing radiation whatsoever (unlike X-rays), it’s been known to create some dissatisfiers for patients.
Among those, “some patients have anxiety about being placed in sometimes uncomfortable positions and having to remain still within the magnet’s bore (center) for extended periods of time — typically 30 to 60 minutes depending on the exam — in order for us to obtain quality diagnostic images,” said Fred Gajewski, director of Ambulatory Imaging at Inspira. “There are also gradients in the magnet that contribute to a loud, knocking noise during the procedure,” he added (though patients are provided with ear protection per FDA regulations).
A Faster, More Relaxed Experience
“At Inspira, we take pride in caring for the entire patient holistically, and enhanced MRI services are one part of ensuring that patients have as comfortable and positive an experience as possible,” said Mario Sergi Jr., Inspira director of Medical Imaging Radiation Oncology and Oncology Data Services.
As part of that commitment, Inspira Medical Center Mullica Hill, a new 210-bed, state-of-the-art facility opening in November, as well as other imaging facilities in the Inspira network, will soon debut the following new MRI technology:
- Ambient Experience — According to Gajewski, cutting-edge new ‘Ambient Experience’ technology provides dynamic lighting and audio scenes (e.g., ocean, desert, mountain, etc.) and allows patients to choose their preferred setting while being imaged. “While patients would previously undergo the procedure in a standard hospital room cluttered with equipment, the new MRI area will be a stylish, architecturally designed space that sets a relaxed mood and exudes a spa-like atmosphere,” Gajewski said. “We’ve worked hard to research and create a new design that reduces patient anxiety by refocusing attention from the equipment itself to the attractive and personalized lighting and scenes that each patient can customize for themselves.”
Robert Lazarus, MD, director of MRI at Inspira, agreed. “In addition to providing patients with feedback about where they are in the procedure and what to expect, the Ambient Experience offers a somewhat immersive display of sight and sound to decrease fear and anxiety and make the experience more pleasant,” he said.
- Compressed SENSE — Inspira’s introduction of new MRI units featuring ‘Compressed SENSE’ software from Philips also promise to elevate the MRI experience for patients. According to Lazarus, “the unit itself is all digital, which reduces inherent noise to improve images, and also uses a novel way to collect and organize data to make the scan faster” — a feature that Gajewski believes can potentially reduce scan time for patients by 30 percent to 50 percent.
Overall, Sergi, Gajewski and Lazarus are extremely optimistic about how the new MRI technology will positively impact the patient experience at Inspira, which imaged almost 13,000 MRI outpatient exams in 2018. “ While we always strive to provide patients with the best technology in the area, we’re excited to be able to elevate the MRI experience one step further and take it to a new level,” Gajewski said. “This technology is a game changer for our hospital network.”
“This will hopefully change the way people think about MRI procedures,” Lazarus agreed.