Trust starts long before the examination

How imaginative room and device design creates positive and calming emotions – and may even help patients in their recovery.

Andrea Lutz
Published on 30. Juni 2021

Almost one in three patients feels anxious before a radiological examination. The reasons vary greatly from individual to individual: Some are afraid of heat or noise, or loss of control when forced to lie still in a narrow scanner tube. Others report feeling worried about being “isolated, confined, alone, and dependent on others.”[1] As a result, patients who feel so ill at ease, tend to move more. This reduces the quality of around 20 percent of all scans.[2] A study has shown, however, that various methods can help relieve patients of their fear or give them back at least partial control. Knowing how long the examination will last, having a mirror to see outside the scanner, and being able to press an alarm button can all help to reduce patients’ fears.[3] Further reassurance comes from trusting the people involved in the examination and simply having a sense of being “in good hands.”

These examinations need, therefore, to be made as pleasant as possible – from the very moment the patient arrives at the hospital.


It’s a simple equation: Confusing hospital corridors can increase a patient’s fear – but a clear and inviting wayfinding system makes them feel secure. A windowless waiting room can feel oppressive – but a lively, imaginative wall display offers a welcome distraction. The gray depths of a scanner can look threatening – but diving into an underwater kingdom filled with turtles and clownfish is exciting. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Let’s take a closer look at how a multidisciplinary team from Siemens Healthineers went about improving the overall patient experience for the pediatric imaging department at the University Hospital Dresden and the Imaging Science Institute (ISI) in Erlangen. 

No matter how large an institution is, no matter which disciplines and clinical fields it covers, certain factors affect a patient’s perception of it – and they do so from the very moment that the patient enters the building for the first time. Factors such as cleanliness, wayfinding, and noise levels help to create these first impressions. If an institution wants to improve the patient experience throughout the treatment pathway, it is likely to find room for improvement in many areas. Siemens Healthineers designs its devices and their surroundings with positive patient and user experiences in mind. The ergonomics of the systems are part and parcel of this, as are their well thought-out forms and color schemes, and their award-winning user interfaces that make workflows easier for the teams. Tests have also shown that many customers appreciate the appealing sound of Clara1, a digital voice that provides instructions during an MRI or CT exam and can respond to the individual patient. If a patient’s pulse – and therefore their anxiety levels – rises during a long scan, Clara will notice and say calmly, “I see that you’re a little nervous.” She then tells the patient how much longer the scan will last and encourages them to hold on. This relaxes the patient markedly. Multiple teams are already benefitting from Clara’s support and have become very fond of their charming new colleague.

By Andrea Lutz
Andrea Lutz is a journalist and business trainer specialized on medical topics, technology, and healthcare IT. She lives in Nuremberg, Germany.