Cardiac patients undergoing procedures at the National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS) starting Thursday may find themselves either immersed in a Disney World setting or the African Savannah, with accompanying audio playing in the background. It's part of a testbed project by the center involving Philips' Ambient Experience to soothe patients through the intimidating clinical process of preparation, examination, treatment, and post-procedure.
The Ambient Experience takes patients on a multimedia ride, letting them personalize the lighting, projected images, and sounds in the examination or lab room. The 10 themes can be selected via a menu on a wireless touch-screen tablet, with more themes on the way. Once picked, the patient's choice is projected on the walls and ceilings and through TV screens, wrapping the user in a multi-sensory setting of his or her own choosing.
So far, the Ambient Experience appears to have had a positive impact on the three patients who earlier sampled it. According to 75-year-old Neo Bee, who was at the cardiac catheterization laboratory to have angioplasty to open her blocked arteries, "I saw birds and kangaroos on the ceiling and there was soothing music, too. I felt calm and relaxed."
Besides the fun aspect, associate professor Koh Tian Hai, medical director of NHCS, said the center opted to implement the Philips contraption as part of the "holistic experience" to help patients through a highly stressful procedure that can range from half an hour to sometimes five hours, depending on the complexity.
To date, more than 125 other medical establishments, including Fairview Hospital in Cleveland and The Villages Regional Hospital in The Villages, Fla., have installed Philips' mood lighting solution to to create a warm and personal setting that takes patients out of a cold, sterile room. One hospital in Chicago reports a 28 percent reduction in sedation for children under age 4, and a 16 percent reduction for those below age 18 over a four-year period.
At NHCS, only one of the four cardiac catheterization laboratories will have the Ambient Experience in place, with no plans as yet to extend this to the rest. So if you're a heart patient at the center, it'll be down to a Russian roulette of lab schedules and timing. But it's a start, heralding a change in the care cycle that patients in this region will receive.