Feature | September 03, 2008| Cristen Bolan

Calming Cath Lab Could Help Clinical Outcomes

Design and technology combine in new system to help calm patients with the hope of improving outcomes.

The Philips Ambient Experience helps calm cath lab patients to make for smoother procedures and better outcomes, users say.

In as much as the environment in which you live can affect your quality of life, so can the environment in which someone receives medical care affect patient outcome – at least in theory.

Healthcare facilities are now putting that theory to the test by designing catheterization (cath) labs and interventional suites that combine design and technology to create a comfortable experience for patients and staff.

The notion of calming the patient to help procedures progress more smoothly is not novel, but what is new is the way patients are being sedated, often without medication.

Philips Healthcare is embracing and building on this concept with its Ambient Experience suites, which are rooms that integrate architecture, design and enabling technologies, such as lighting, sound, projection and RFID, to allow patients to personalize their environment and wrap themselves in a relaxing ambience.

By calming the patient, the company said Ambient Experience can help procedures progress more smoothly, making the clinician’s job easier. The design also eliminates unnecessary physical barriers in the imaging suite for better patient and staff interaction.

Philips recently installed the Ambient Experience suite in the cath lab at Fairview Hospital, one of the hospitals in the Cleveland Clinic Health System. The room has been created as an interactive, people-focused healthcare environment that combines design and technology to create a more comfortable experience for patients and staff, potentially increasing operational effectiveness.

“Entering the cath lab for a heart procedure can be very scary for patients, so allowing them to choose the lighting and sound to create an environment such as a beach setting, can help to put them at ease with their surroundings,” said Victor Hall, vice president of cardiac services at Fairview Hospital. “The lighting actually makes our lab appear bigger, which helps to calm patients and alleviate feelings of claustrophobia. In addition, the Ambient lab has created a more comfortable and soothing environment for our doctors and nurses to perform procedures.”

Hall said the new environment has impacted patient outcomes.

“What we wanted to do was to take a different approach in the design of our facility and have a patient-centric focus.” Hall said. “When I saw the Ambient Experience concept, I knew this would be another aspect that would fit well with our theme. Philips also helped to put a focus on de-cluttering the environment with special attention paid to storage and cabinets, and even things like waste receptacles.”

He said having curves in the room, as opposed to corners, discourages clutter and gives the room a softer look. Hall said Phillips also took the time to work together to evaluate their workflow to make sure there were appropriate space and access and room for staff to move freely about the room.

“The soothing lighting and sound that goes into these projects really helps patients as well, by giving them some control over their environment and allowing them to relax more than in a standard cath lab setting,” Hall said. “When you’re a cath patient, you’re in a very compromising position. During prep your legs are hanging out, your chest is exposed and your groin may also be exposed. In a typical setting there are always people in the control room. What’s really nice is that with a push of a button, the glass goes opaque and you have instant privacy for the patient.”

Technology is used as an ‘enabling tool’ with the Ambient Experience – the touchscreen allows the patient and staff to customize the environment. Leading-edge lighting technology and strategies are incorporated to provide both aesthetics (dynamic lighting) and function (minimize glare).

“We have found that not only do our patients find the room a soothing environment, our cardiologists and staff like it as well. We have some cardiologists that program or request their preference before a case begins,” he said.

Hall said he was surprised by the benefits to the clinicians.
“Usually cardiologists don’t make a big fuss one way or the other, but the cardiologists that use it love it. I’ve got doctors vying for the room all the time now.”

One key objective of the Ambient cath lab is to relax the patient, which in turn helps relax the doctor, staff and family members.

“Any time people are more relaxed, they tend to cooperate and require less intervention such as anesthesia. A cooperative patient is also more likely to get a valuable exam done more quickly and accurately,” Hall said.

He explained Philips has trend data showing children in a scanning environment can often proceed without sedation, and there are similar findings in the MR environment.

More than 50 hospitals have installed the Philips Ambient Experience including 31 in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, six in Asia Pacific, 11 in Europe, and two in the Middle East. There are several types of Ambient Experience suites installed globally, including MR, CT, mammography and the cardiac cath lab.

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