Revolutionizing Patient fMRI Scanning Experience at Turing Medical [ case study]

The Story

Turing Medical, a visionary in medical technology, embarked on a transformative mission to overcome motion artifacts during patient fMRI scans. The company’s latest innovation, FIRMM-pix, aimed to holistically enhance the patient experience, covering all stages of the patient journey, from pre-scan to repeat scans, for individuals aged 4 to 80.

The issue with MRI scans is young children require sedation. Sedation for MRI costs the US Healthcare industry an estimated $4B dollars. An important problem to solve– for patients and the industry.

“Reducing the use of sedation for pediatric brain MRI exams translates into “substantial cost savings” for the healthcare system”, according to a study published Dec 2022 in the American Journal of Roentgenology.

Patient undergoing MRI examination

The Challenge​

Traditional fMRI scans faced a persistent challenge: motion artifacts disrupting scan quality. Scans last 30-90 minutes with an average of 20 for most. Turing Medical recognized the need for an immersive patient service experience that engaged patients and minimized involuntary movements– for the entire scan. The company sought to balance excitement and relaxation, ensuring users remained still while experiencing a compelling environment. Experience Dynamics was tasked with making a “stillness machine”: a game that involved holding, concentrating, relaxing, and holding still.

The real rub was that this had to work for 4-year-olds, a notoriously squirmish bunch.

Add the ‘hospitalization experience’ (trauma of being in a high-trauma place and situation), and you have a recipe for anxiety, panic, and fear. This was a huge design challenge. Previous attempts by IDEO only covered the walk-up to the “bore” (the full-body scanning tunnel), not the entire journey and all the actors (parents, MRI Techs etc).

 

The Turning Point​

Experience Dynamics delved into cutting-edge research, drawing inspiration from past studies on MRI anxiety, gamification, and biofeedback in healthcare. We understood that gaining physiological compliance, encompassing relaxation and attention was paramount. This insight led to the exploration of storytelling for biofeedback-enhanced experiences that fused game mechanics with entrainment techniques, reducing user arousal and generating “motion artifacts” (blurry images requiring rescan).

Grounding our approach on User Interviews about medical experiences and comfort, we also included past studies (available at PubMed). This led us to storytelling and gamification for healthcare. A series of engaging ‘games’ would be used to hold users’ attention.

Note: This has never been attempted in the industry until now.

Experience Dynamics

The Execution

Method Used: Comprehensive Patient Journey Design

  1. Engaging All Age Groups: Turing Medical’s approach catered to individuals aged 4 to 80, recognizing the diverse age range in healthcare scenarios. The immersive patient service experience was tailored to captivate and soothe patients across generations.
  2. Synergy of Gamification and Biofeedback: By capitalizing on the potential of gamification and biofeedback from previous studies, the company created an environment where excitement and relaxation converged. Users were motivated to stay still through game-like mechanics while benefiting from entrainment-induced calmness.
  3. Holistic Interaction Design: Embracing the entirety of the patient journey – pre-scan, mid-scan, and repeat scans – provided a broader Service and Interaction Design canvas. This comprehensive approach allowed for greater creativity in achieving optimal results. For example, the emotional influence from MRI Techs and Parents could ruin a scan- how can we bring them into the experience as secondary users? In addition, could a VR experience help? Yep. we tested a VR experience and an iPad interactive game for onboarding.

The Evidence

Service Design: Creating Holistic Solutions

Turing extended its innovation by embracing Service Design principles. This encompassed the design of the entire patient experience, from pre-scan preparations to the scan itself and even repeat scans. This holistic approach enabled Turing to consider all touchpoints and interactions, ensuring a seamless and comforting experience throughout.

Service Prototyping with VR and Simulated MRI

Turing worked with Experience Dynamics bringing service prototyping techniques to test the innovative ideas, integrating a VR, iPad, and a simulated MRI machine. The streamlined, carefully tested onboarding experience design allowed patients to feel relaxed with the MRI environment before the actual scan, reducing anxiety and uncertainty— and most of all stillness! The MRI Director of the hospital reviewing user test scan results said he had never seen such high results (stillness) from a patient in an MRI.

Turing’s visionary approach led to the creation of FIRMM-pix, a groundbreaking in-bore visual biofeedback module. This complemented Turing’s FIRMM software, actively reducing head motion during MRI scans. FIRMM-pix seamlessly integrated biofeedback, gamification, and storytelling, enabling patients to stay still during scans while enjoying engaging content.

The Result

Experience Dynamics breakthrough gave FIRMM-pix the ultimate differentiated gamified MRI experience.

“The experience combines biofeedback and gamification to create an immersive in-bore experience that coaches patients to stay still, addressing motion at its source. The premier game, Puppy Dreams, features licensed movie content and a comforting dog as the patient’s reliable guide, keeping them informed about any movements during the scan. Say goodbye to anxiety as this game’s content and biofeedback work harmoniously to help patients successfully complete the scan while staying calm and still. FIRMM-pix is the only visual biofeedback game solution for reducing head motion.”

By leveraging Service Design, gamification, and Emotion Design, Experience Dynamics was able to prove that a Human-Centered patient experience for MRIs was possible.

Turing Medical’s strategic integration of the experience design approach has propelled the advancement of MRI imaging. The creation of FIRMM-pix demonstrates the company’s commitment to patient comfort and image quality. By leveraging innovative methodologies, Turing has redefined the patient experience, setting new standards for the neuroimaging field. This case study underscores the power of combining Service Design and Emotion Design and technological innovation to drive meaningful improvements in healthcare technologies.

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