Due to the disturbing cancellation rate among patients facing an MRI, Florida Hospital's Seaside Imaging Center resolved to address the problem by designing an exam space that would be so cheerful and welcoming that patients would decide to stick around. "We created an entire virtual beach environment in this area," she says. The unit's flooring is like a boardwalk; changing rooms look like cabanas; patients change not into backless nighties, but into surfer shorts and tops; barium is served, straight up, in a turquoise glass with an umbrella; the MRI unit is disguised as a sand castle; and a sound machine plays tapes of waves and birds. They use multiple scent zones to create a truly special atmosphere. The smell of the ocean in one room, and the scent of coconut oil in another and the scent of vanilla infuses the MRI room as the scent of vanilla reportedly helps people feel less claustrophobic. An amazing number of people say, 'This doesn't smell like a hospital.'
The results have been dramatic. In 2000, when the facility opened, 6% of patients needed sedation, upping the expense of the procedure. By last year, the sedation rate had dropped to 2%. What's more, the cancellation rate for the test dropped 50%. And the time spent coaxing people to submit to the exam has also fallen dramatically.
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