Can iPads make MRI patients less claustrophobic?

This screen grab from the promotional video shows some lighting and screen choices controlled via an iPad.

Getting an MRI — that is, being conveyor-belted into a claustrophobic tube that makes a seemingly endless series of obnoxious clanging noises — is no one’s idea of a good time. So the folks at GE and PDC are looking at Apple’s iPad as a way to bring a sense of control and calm to the patient experience.

As part of what the company is calling the MR Suite, patients are given an iPad that has an app tailored to the experience. From the app they can adjust the lighting levels in the room as well as choose the music. Or, if patients don’t like the selection, they can dock their own iOS device to the MR Suite iPad. (It’s not clear if that means patients can then play their own apps too — I’ll update the post if I hear back from PDC about this.)

On the ceiling above the MRI machine is an LED panel that can show images like nature scenes and videos that are meant to be calming, which the patient can swipe through to choose via the iPad. Springwise, which pointed to this project, has a video explaining more about the intent behind the project.

Of course, this is not meant to suggest a touchscreen tablet will magically make MRIs a desirable experience, but it could certainly help make them somewhat less unpleasant.

This is yet another avenue Apple’s tablet has found into the world of healthcare. Apple has heavily promoted apps for workers in the field of medicine and their patients, and doctors are big fans of being able to check charts and get work done when not in the office.

More doctors in training are also learning their field with an iPad in tow: a report in Reuters on Tuesday illustrated how hospital residents were more efficient in providing care when carrying Apple’s tablet to patient bedsides.

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