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A More Comfortable Experience
Using new ambient MRI Technology, Inspira Health expects improved outcomes for patients who feel more at ease in a virtually serene environment.

by Liz Hunter

THERE ARE MANY REASONS PEOPLE HAVE ANXIETY WHEN IT COMES TO SEEING A DOCTOR OR HAVING A MEDICAL PROCEDURE PERFORMED, whether it’s a fear of needles or fear of diagnosis. Rational or not, these fears affect patient outcomes, but the health care industry is taking notice and as a result, patient experiences are becoming warmer and more welcoming.

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is one such experience that is evolving. Used for detecting brain tumors, cancers, developmental anomalies, multiple sclerosis, stroke, dementia, infection and even the causes of headaches, MRIs are an essential component of determining a patient’s treatment plan, but the process is not traditionally enjoyable for patients.  

“The most common complaint is the feeling of claustrophobia,” says Robert Lazarus, M.D., a radiologist with Inspira Health. “Patients are put inside a closed, tube-like space and many say it feels like a coffin or as if everything is closing in on them. The second most common complaint is the noise, which comes from the magnetic field shifting around. Patients are also asked to stay completely still while holding their breath, often losing count of how many seconds are left. This can be uncomfortable and disorienting, especially if someone is having multiple exams.

“Any movement by the patient while inside the machine may cause an image to become blurry, requiring the process to be repeated. But the longer an exam takes, the more time the anxiety has to build in a patient, increasing the risk of motion, etc.,” says Dr. Lazarus.  

Fortunately, technology known as Ambient MRI is coming to the mainstream and  Inspira Health is the first provider in South Jersey to offer it.  

Designed to transform the patient’s environment, Inspira’s Ambient MRI Experience uses dynamic lighting, visual projection and sound to create the most relaxing, comfortable and stress-reducing patient experience available.

There are several differences between traditional and Ambient MRI, says Dr. Lazarus. One of the first differences patients will notice is the room. Intentionally designed to be as sleek, clutter-free and spacious as possible, the room allows patients to feel like they’ve transported into the future—or at least to somewhere more relaxing. “Imagine choosing a scenic setting—the beach, the woods, something comforting—and  when you walk into the exam room, it’s generated on the wall and inside the machine so you feel like you are completely immersed in that   environment and not inside of a tube.”

Next, patients will hear less noise and see more soothing lighting. While inside the bore, a countdown display shows how much time is left in the exam.  “This is important for patients while they hold their breath. If they can’t remember how much longer to hold it—is it 10 more seconds or only two?—this allows them to see it clearly and know just how much longer, reducing the risk of them taking a breath too soon and blurring the image,” Dr. Lazarus says.

Inspira sees the Ambient MRI Experience as a true investment in the future of health care. The technology has improved dramatically since it was first introduced almost a decade ago, yet the cost has some other health care providers holding off. Inspira is  proud to offer its Ambient MRI experience on-site at Inspira Medical Center Mullica Hill and at the Inspira Health Center Sicklerville, with plans to expand even further at the new Inspira Health Center Woolwich in early 2021.  

Dr. Lazarus says anyone is a candidate for Ambient MRI, and it can be especially helpful for pediatric patients.

 “We see positive feedback from patients and it’s something we’ll keep our eye on for implementing in other locations,” Dr. Lazarus says. “An MRI is never going to be a completely comfortable test that takes only three minutes, but we can try our best to make it as comfortable as we can with the technology that is available. Ambient MRI makes it easier on patients. When they are comfortable, the exam is shorter,   results come out better and the patient is happier when it’s finished.”

To schedule your Ambient MRI Experience with Inspira Health, call 1-800-INSPIRA, or visit

Inspira Health

Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 9 (November 2020).
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