Design Your MRI Suite to Reduce Anxiety

MRI scans are becoming commonplace in today’s world, but complications due to patients’ anxiety, claustrophobia, and stress can throw barriers in the way of their treatment. Some research has found that over 30 percent of patients undergoing MRIs experience anxiety, which can have a significant impact on both results and patient satisfaction.

Rather than relying on patient sedation as a quick fix (which can require patients to spend more time in the machine, actually increasing anxiety), providers are adapting. Open MRI units are growing in popularity, as are machines that boast decreased noise and faster results. The most effective means of overcoming barriers like anxiety and claustrophobia, however, comes with a change in atmosphere.

Patient flow

Patient flow plays a major role in the efficiency and effectiveness of the MRI suite. The movement through safety zones should feel logical and natural—simple and relaxed, not burdened by the cold formality of a complicated medical procedure. Architectural encouragement of both circulation and repose when necessary can be incredibly reassuring to a stressed patient.


Lighting has been demonstrated to influence mood; bright fluorescent ceiling panels can worsen stress headaches, increase anxiety, and create an unnecessarily harsh environment. When designing your MRI suite, natural light via windows and skylights is ideal. Any artificial lighting should come by way of soft, indirect, and shielded incandescent bulbs in appealing fixtures.


Sound is a difficult issue, due to the volume and intensity of an operating MRI. As patients approach the scan room, it can be difficult to relax amidst the growing noise. Suite design can attempt to minimize reverberation throughout the area, including dampening measures within the scan room itself, but facilities often overlook the possibility of replacing the Muzak broadcast with appealing and soothing sounds from nature. MRI safe headphones can also be offered, so the patient can bring their own music or listen to CDs.  And with the use of smartphones, even streaming music from apps is more soothing alternative.

 Color Selection

Color selection can boil down to a matter of preference, but rest is the key. The rich and comforting colors found in nature are most likely to encourage relaxation and tranquility, instead of more traditional hospital-grade sharp bright hues, which are “sterile,” but jarring. Natural materials and décor can continue the soothing effect, while providing a visually interesting distraction from the MRI procedure.

KMG can help

Are you designing a new or renovated imaging suite? We’ve found in every circumstance that comfortable and visually appealing architecture and finishing touches are essential to functionality, because an anxious or stressed patient is always at greater risk. At KMG, we’re eager to help you achieve the best environment possible for your patients. Let’s explore your options.  Contact David Sweitzer today.

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David Sweitzer

Our Director of Operations, David Sweitzer has been with KMG since 1998. As a licensed architect David has spent the last 25 years in healthcare facility design and project management, a skill set that makes him uniquely qualified to lead the planning design and construction of medical imaging suites and the installation of medical equipment. David also manages the service and repair of our imaging equipment, is responsible for procurement of new and used equipment, and he manages our expanding mobile imaging business.