Designing the healthcare experience: workshop highlights

December 13, 2011

As headline sponsors of The King’s Fund Annual Conference 2011, Philips Healthcare hosted a lunchtime workshop for delegates to share insights into how patient-centred design can contribute to hospital productivity, patient compliance and improved outcomes.


The special workshop, demonstrated how a holistic approach using existing technology in innovative ways, can transform the patient experience. Senior clinicians and managers heard about the latest success stories in which the design of healthcare spaces has been the key element in improved results.


Philips Healthcare’s Chief Design Officer, Sean Hughes, described how Philips creates a vision for each unique project. “If you’re going to design a better healing environment, it’s not just about creating an inspiring design,” he said. “There needs to be an economic benefit for the hospital, better outcomes and quality of care, as well as improved compliance. We want patients to tell other people about their positive experience.” 


Hughes explained how Philips designers looked at the whole patient journey in order to learn how to realise their vision. “We look at managing this from the car park to the imaging suite and back to the car park,” he said. “We have to map what happens from different perspectives. We note what people say the good points are and where are the issues. We also do qualitative investigations including interviews with stakeholders and patients. Design in healthcare needs to be more efficient for staff too, and have greater throughput, so we also think about the places staff work and how to make them more effective.”


The audience at The King’s Fund conference were able to question Hughes on the successful installation of more than 200 Philips ‘Ambient Experiences’ at healthcare sites around the world – where patients are able to select and control interactive scenes, including a tropical beach, mountains or sunset as a distraction from clinical procedures such as MRI scans. Evidence from an installation at Winter Park in Florida, show the ambient experience has increased patient throughput, reducing overtime and room idle time. The 12-month target of 20% was surpassed in less than six months.


Hughes explained how reducing the time it took for each patient to complete procedures, due to increased compliance, could accumulate capacity and drive growth. Results at Florida Children’s Hospital Emergency Department show the average time taken for a child to see a doctor is now 41% quicker than two years ago, and the ‘door to inpatient bed’ turnover times have improved by 35%.”


“There are many benefits to distracting people from the clinical action of gathering an image [scanning],” said Hughes. “As well improving productivity, it can be more rewarding for staff. Children become really engaged in the more immersive storytelling experience. We are combining ready-made technology into new spaces in new ways.”



The audience heard about a project at Bradford Royal Infirmary in which intelligent and innovative design by Philips has transformed two acute wards for dementia patients. Dynamic lighting, interactive interchangeable artwork, reminiscence aids and creative use of space, has increased patient compliance and satisfaction, in what can be a very challenging healthcare situation.


Shane Embleton, project manager of the Enhancing the Healing Environment (EHE) pilot at Bradford, which is led by The King’s Fund, spoke passionately about the visible improvements the project has already achieved. “We are the first acute hospital in the UK to trial this,” he said. “We’ve seen some really positive results with people. Patients with dementia have disrupted sleep patterns and violent incidents but the new ambient lighting supports their biological clock and helps with their natural rhythms. It encourages longer durations of sleep and improves wellbeing. In the morning the light has been making the patients smile and they wake feeling at ease with the day. In the evening the light relaxes them to sleep.”


“We are currently having an evaluation, but we’ve already seen anecdotal evidence of success – use of anti-psychotic drugs, for example. There is a lot less aggression out there. It’s also helping to reduce slips, trips and falls.”


Embleton went on to say that going through the design process with Philips had entirely changed his perspective on what Design in Healthcare is, and what it can achieve. “I’ve been in NHS project management for 18 years and I thought I knew what patients wanted but I didn’t. This has opened my eyes. One day on this project changed everything for me. It was patient-driven, there was a lot of consultation. It was a long process but it got it right. My Trust has got a lot to thank Philips and The King’s Fund for – for what we’ve achieved.”


Ideas of what the hospital of the future could look like were debated by panel members including Marc Sansom, Director of the International Academy of Design & Health and Editor of World Health Design, and Richard Tandy, Business Development Manager for Philips Healthcare.


“Design matters on many levels,” said Sansom. “You can create a more holistic experience and reduce costs at the same time. We need to look from two perspectives. The first is ‘pathogenic,’ which influences the clinical process and medical treatment, efficiency and quality. The second is salutogenic, thinking about health promotion, wellness factors and lifestyle as opposed to curative approach to disease and disease management.”


Hughes suggested the focus for the future would be on connectivity. “Architecturally, buildings can be more dispersed as they can all be connected technologically – with more remote monitoring, using wireless and tablets. He added: “I’d also like to put the ‘hospitality’ into ‘hospital’ and give the best possible experience for the least possible investment.”


Tandy told delegates that a dynamic lighting solution, such as that used in the Bradford pilot, could be commonplace in hospitals of the future. “From a cost perspective, this type of lighting is only around up to10% more when you take into account the overall equipment cost.” He went on to explain how the significantly longer lifespan of LEDs meant lamps wouldn’t have to be replaced very often – saving money and time. “You will start to see some financial benefits over a longer period of time,” Tandy added.


Further information

For more information, please contact:
Barbara Neate

Philips UK
Tel: +44 1483 293 071 or +44 7771 814 778