Disney teams with health tech specialist Philips in trial to reduce anxiety in child patients

The Walt Disney Company EMEA has teamed up with the health technology specialist, Royal Philips to test new technologies developed to reduce the fear or anxiety felt by children undergoing MRI processes.

The research will investigate how Philips Ambient Experience can improve the experience of a patient during pediatric MRI procedures through the use of a series of animated stories featuring some of Disney’s most beloved characters.

Philips Ambient Experience is a solution that brings architecture, design, and enabling technologies such as lighting, video projections, and sound, into the MRI procedure. Through the partnership, Philips Ambient Experience will render six pieces of original, stylised Disney animation intended to reduce fear and anxiety often felt by a child in the MRI process.

Philips’ clinical research will commence this summer in six hospitals across Europe, marking the first time Disney has collaborated as part of a clinical research project of this kind.

The Disney animation to be used will feature characters like Mickey Mouse, Ariel, Marvel’s Avengers, Star Wars’ Yoda, and others. The goal will be to help alleviate children’s anxiety, create bonds and improve the staff’s ability to carry out their tasks in MRI scanning rooms.

Medical exams like MRI scans can be challenging for many patients, especially children, who are anxious or claustrophobic. Philips Ambient Experience – with 2,000 installations worldwide – helps manage these challenges by creating an engaging, multi-sensory imaging environment that is welcoming and relaxing.

Patients can personalize the room’s lighting, video, and sound by selecting a theme of their choice. This gives them a feeling of empowerment and control over the procedure and provides a positive focus on the ambient theme.

“A visit to the hospital can be quite intimidating for people, and especially children, where a more patient-friendly, patient-centric environment could help improve the patient experience and help drive first-time-right imaging for improved outcomes,” said Kees Wesdorp, chief business leader of precision diagnosis at Philips.

“With this pilot study, we will investigate the impact of Philips Ambient Experience including Disney’s specially developed themes to empower children with a positive experience to help them throughout the medical procedure. Philips has always taken a human-centric approach to healthcare. Together, we can make a real difference for thousands of young patients going through medical procedures each day.”

Jan Koeppen, president, The Walt Disney Company, EMEA, added: “I have seen first-hand that MRI scans can be intimidating for children, and I like how focused Philips is on the patient experience.

“At Disney, we look forward to complementing Philips’ MRI experience with our stories and characters. We are excited to see the results of the clinical research and to quantify the impact our characters can have in this environment.”

In a recent study carried out by the New Economics Foundation, it was identified that in addition to creating a positive experience, the well-known Disney characters help build trust for children in anxious circumstances. The research, also identifies that, through the power of Disney’s storytelling and characters, it can inspire and create positive feelings, experiences and memories helping children and young people to cope where and when they need it most.

Disney has a long history of bringing magic and storytelling to children’s hospitals and places of care across the world. In 2018, Disney announced a further commitment of $100 million to help reimagine the patient journey for children in hospitals around the world as part of their global Social Purpose program.