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Patient Experience Case Study - Phoenix Children's Hospital
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Designing Technology Solutions to Improve the Patient Experience

What was the challenge, opportunity or issue faced?

Phoenix Children's Hospital had an ED and Trauma Center designed to treat 22,000 children annually, but saw more than 83,000 patients in 2016 alone. With Arizona's expanding population, Phoenix Children's strategically planned for the needs of this growing community. Traumatic injuries are the leading cause of death among Arizona children between the ages of 1 and 16, and highly specialized emergency and trauma services for patients were some of the biggest priorities for Phoenix Children's.

The new, $40 million, 42,000-square-foot ED was built in 2017 and has dramatically increased Phoenix Children's emergency and trauma care capacity (accommodating 100,000 patients each year) while meeting the demands of Arizona's burgeoning pediatric population, improving the patient (and family) experience with connected care and facilitating improved outcomes.

Due to the nature of ED and trauma centers, imaging plays a critical role in patient care and imaging exams can be a very scary procedure for young patients. Phoenix Children's wanted to harness the potential of radiology to improve and ultimately transform patient care. Additionally, it wanted to improve the patient experience from not only an innovative technology and care solutions perspective but a patient anxiety one as well as they both play a critical role in improving imaging outcomes.

What did you do to address it?

Phoenix Children's efforts to improve the patient experience range from first-of-kind projects in radiation dose management, new imaging paradigms in MRI, new technology such as spectral CT, and avant-garde approaches to interventional therapy like 3-D imaging and real-time navigation of needle placement for biopsies. However, Phoenix Children's main goal is to help and heal patients in its care.

In building the new center, Phoenix Children's worked with Philips as a strategic partner to design solutions that addressed some of the complexities of treating children. For example, with technology such as the IQon Spectral CT, the Phoenix Children's team was able to make quicker diagnoses with low-dose, highly detailed scans. It is the second pediatric hospital in the nation, and the fourth in the world, to offer access to Philips IQon Spectral CT scanner, which provides critical imaging of traumatic injuries, tumors, vascular structures and infections with a single CT scan, thereby allowing quick diagnosis and helping providers refine their treatment strategy. In this way, imaging technology is being used to detect abnormalities in one scan without the need for a rescan, offering treatment for that patient and getting them on the road to recovery more quickly.

At the same time, PCH technologists work to improve the patient experience by decreasing the anxiety and fear around imaging exams that exist for both young patients and their parents. Patients who feel comfortable and secure are less likely to engage in behaviors that compromise the quality of the imaging study, making it easier for staff to acquire high-quality images and for Phoenix Children's radiologists to interpret them.

For example, Amber Pokorney, Lead MR Research Technologist, at Phoenix Children's, noted how important communication and comfort was to young patients and their families that she works with to get accurate images. "Identification with the patients is really key," she said. "I try to connect with all my patients on a personal level. I make patients feel more comfortable by letting them know that I know what it's like to be in one of the big MR machines. I can offer some strategies to help them cope through the process. If I can create a bond of trust with them by communicating what is going to happen and anticipating their needs it helps them to let go of all those insecurities and all the nervousness, everything goes away and it helps them. They leave happier."

What outcomes were achieved?

Paired with these technologies, the new center helped Phoenix Children's continue to monitor and examine patients, and ultimately improve the care of children. A focus on improving the patient experience in pediatric care and the use of technology innovations has helped Phoenix Children's become closer to the people it serves by enabling them to enhance care throughout the hospital.

Beyond technology innovations, Phoenix Children's has also started to take action to make the patient experience better in other ways. In particular, Pokorney is working on a study with Arizona State University to create videos that show children the process of going through an MR exam. This includes getting into the machine, holding their breath and the importance of remaining still throughout the exam so that a good image can be obtained. Phoenix Children's has found that when children can watch a video of what is going to happen before it happens, the patient and parents are much calmer and the image acquisition is better. They started using this approach in 2017 and have seen a significant reduction in the number of patients requiring repeated imaging and failures in completing ordered exams.

The more than 180 employees of the Phoenix Children's Radiology department share this commitment to patient satisfaction, safety and optimal experience as they perform more than 130,000 exams annually on children. Phoenix Children's actively assesses patient experience through a variety of survey methods in order to optimize the patient-centric metrics that matter to the children they care for and their families. Continuous professional practice and service optimization is a key priority at Phoenix Children's in order to maintain the excellence of care that young patients and their families expect and deserve.

About Phoenix Children's Hospital

Phoenix Children's Hospital is Arizona's only children's hospital recognized by U.S. News & World Report's Best Children's Hospitals. Phoenix Children's provides world-class inpatient, outpatient, trauma, emergency and urgent care to children and families in Arizona and throughout the Southwest. As one of the largest children's hospitals in the country, Phoenix Children's provides care across more than 75 pediatric specialties. The Hospital is poised for continued growth in quality patient care, research and medical education. For more information about the hospital, visit

About Philips

Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) is a leading health technology company focused on improving people's health and enabling better outcomes across the health continuum from healthy living and prevention, to diagnosis, treatment and home care. Philips leverages advanced technology and deep clinical and consumer insights to deliver integrated solutions. Headquartered in the Netherlands, the company is a leader in diagnostic imaging, image-guided therapy, patient monitoring and health informatics, as well as in consumer health and home care. For more information about Philips’ radiology solutions, please click here.

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