Category Archives: patient experience

Makers of Monument Valley create game app for Alder Hey pediatric hospital

Digital studio UsTwo, well known for their gorgeous puzzle game Monument Valley, recently launched an augmented reality game app for pediatric patients at the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, England. Before hospitalization, they download and personalize the game, Alder Play. Then, as they make their way to different areas of the hospital,kids can go on augmented reality scavenger hunts, unlock dancing characters, and receive stickers for achievements like having a dressing changed or being scanned.”

Alder Hey Consultant Nik Barnes, who originated the idea of Alder Play, explained: “Our vision is to transform the experience of children in hospital. We wanted to distract patients during procedures, and reduce their worries and fears. Rewarding children following procedures and treatments was another vital element as it helps to encourage their progress. Rewards can be given for something as simple as having a dressing changed, to getting out of bed after an operation or having a scan.”

Designers spend time at the hospital to understand the culture and the architecture, so the app feels like a natural and bespoke part of the patient experience. Even the avatars were based on cartoon characters who appear in the hospital’s environment. In addition to the gamification aspect of play, the app also uses IBM’s Watson technology so that parents and kids can ask common questions and get real-time answers. The game is supported by NHS England and NHS Digital.

Via FastCoDesign



Bridget Duffy Experia Health

Rock Health presents an insightful talk by Bridget Duffy of Experia Health,  a leading patient experience design. Dr Duffy is an engaging speaker and I find her to be one of the most relateable, convincing advocates for humanizing the healthcare experience.

+Culture Shot Manchester

It’s always exciting to see mainstream, national media picking up stories about art and healthcare environments. Last week The Guardian profiled Culture Shots, a week long art and culture initiative at the Central Manchester NHS trust, aimed at healthcare professionals working within the trust. The museum led drop-in events, which took place at all five hospital sites in Manchester, were planned to fit around a busy working day and lasted between just one minute and thirty minutes. According to the Guardian, it’s the first time in the UK that a trust hosted a museums and galleries week within a hospital setting. Here’s the premise, taken straight from the Culture Shots website:

Cultural experiences can help improve health and wellbeing, and can result in benefits that range from the physiological to the emotional. From reduced heart rates and requests for analgesia, to a reduction in the sense of loneliness felt by those suffering from mental ill-health, cultural experiences have been proven to help improve the lives of patients and those who care for them. Cultural experiences have even been linked to longer life expectancy. Culture Shots, your chance to find out why culture works, and how you can use the expertise within Manchester’s museums and galleries to improve your professional practice, and your patients’ health and wellbeing. We think culture matters, and hope that by the end of the Museums and Galleries Week, you will too.

Mini-sessions included “Music in healthcare” “How can museum artifacts help patients” “People patients and portraits” “Artmed”  and plenty of guided tours of the hospital art collections. It’s a great way to get disparate stakeholders including clinicians, administrators, curators, and artists engaging with one another in an a way that’s both enjoyable and informative.

Manchester is a hotbed of arts, health, and culture work. I feel privileged to have completed my MA thesis research within the trust there at LIME arts (an organization also involved in organizing Culture Shots).  For more information about arts and health in Manchester, check out the MMU Arts and Health website.

Pearson Lloyd and Violence in the A&E

There were 57,830 physical assaults on NHS staff in England in 2010-11, and given the NHS’s initiative to design features that minimize violence in the A&E, it’s safe to assume that a disproportionate percent of these assaults took place in A&E departments (A&E, or accident and emergency, is the British version of American ER). The BBC writes that the design counsel and the NHS worked with psychologists to identify six profiles explaining why patients might become violent and nine factors that could trigger violence – such as inhospitable environments. Design firm Pearson Lloyd won a commission to create inexpensive elements that don’t physically create a barrier between staff and patients, but reduce violent incidents. It will be tested for a year at select hospitals. As we noticed yesterday in my post about the patient experience at the A&E, and as is restated by the Design Council:

Patients and other service users arriving at A&E by means other than an ambulance may have significant difficulties in navigating the physical space, and can become lost even before arriving in the A&E department. Once there, they are exposed to a complex system that they may not understand and is frequently not explained to them.

According to an article in Design Week, the new scheme to provide clear, prominent guidance and relevant information to patients and caretakers includes:

A new approach to greeting patients on arrival; a system of environmental signage, called ‘slices’, which gives clear, location-specific information; a personal ‘process map’ explaining what patients can expect from the treatment process; and screens to provide live, dynamic information about how many cases are being handled.

This information will be delivered via a series of narrow vertical information “slices” that can easily an inexpensively be placed in existing A&E facilities, creating an instantly recognisable point for information and communication throughout the department. These sliced could even be placed on ceilings to provide information to patients on stretchers. The Design Council explains:

The visual language was deliberately developed to reference a journey map, with each step represented as a ‘stop’. The stop names can be read from a distance, and the overall process can be quickly understood. If the reader moves closer, they can read the explanatory text and learn more about each step.

Both the BBC and Design Week links include videos about the project that I’m not able to imbed into the post but that are well worth watching. Below is a video from the Design Council explaining the initiative to reduce violence in the A&E.

when researcher becomes patient

Healthcare spaces can be exceptionally challenging to understand from the user’s perspective, with their emotionally nuanced and personal experience entirely outside of most people’s day to day lives. I came across two personal blog posts from designers and researchers who went from theorists, to patients.

Photo: Salma Patel

Salma Patel is a British doctoral researcher interested in digital engagement and participation in healthcare. The above photograph was taken by her on an unexpected visit last summer to Addenbrooke’s A&E department in Cambridge. In this blog post titled “Experiencing the link between environment design & patient experience” she chronicles her interactions with the built environment. She begins the narrative:

As we approached the hospital it wasn’t clear where we supposed to park. There was a sign directing people towards the main car park but there was no sign for A&E parking point or drop off. We continued through the emergency route as it was late at night. As we came in front of the A&E department we realised that the parking bays were disabled only – and though they were all empty, my husband being the ethical man he is, decided not to park there. Ahead of me, I could see some parking spots, but again as there were no signs we were unaware if we were allowed to park there. My husband decided we should just go to the main car park. He had no idea which way to turn.

Luckily, it was a quick stay and Salma is fine. I find it worthwhile to click through and read this visual narrative of the a&e experience from a patient who has an eye turned very specifically to the design of the facility.

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Crystal Richards, is a member of the healthcare team of the Pertkins+Will Seattle office with five years of healthcare experience. She is also a Lukemia survivor. Richards and Perkins + Will colleagues Missy Kutner and Susan Lee wrote an affecting post for the Contract Magazine blog. Richards begins:

I had just finished creating a walk-through animation of a new ambulatory surgery center the day before I got the call. Sure, I understood how to lay out a healthcare facility, how circulation through a hospital worked, where the “family zones” needed to be drawn on the plan, but I was about to get an unsolicited insider’s perspective that would change my life.

She then provides powerful insights surrounding her own emotional experience as a patient. Kutner and Lee relate these personal experiences to existing design elements sometimes put in place to ease the stay of long-term patients, including windows and skylights, bringing the outdoors in and extending patient areas into common spaces, providing social spaces and exercise equipment, creating “family zones” in patient rooms and and workspaces for caregivers in common spaces. The post provides a uniquely personal piece in an field that tends to be analytic and evidence based.

The Atlantic: Design Thinking and Health

An interesting, albeit scattered, account of how Steve Jobs style “design thinking” can effect not only the physical experience of a patient within a healthcare environment, but also potentially increase patient compliance and radicalize research for cures.  An excerpt:

“While in some circles (radiating concentrically from Palo Alto, one imagines), design is, if not quite passé, at least associated with irrational exuberance and extravagant expectations (see this 2009 posting by Peter Merholz, founder of the user experience consultancy Adaptive Path, and the energetic dialog his remarks engendered), these principles have made only very preliminary inroads into medicine and healthcare.

For starters, medicine is far less “human-centered” — that is, patient-centered — than most observers appreciate. In the exact same way that well-intentioned engineers often go awry by creating features based on their own perception of what they perceive users must want, medicine has spent a lot of effort focused on a physician’s idea of a patient, rather than developing a more nuanced view of life from the perspective of the patients themselves.”

Rock Health on “What the heck is patient experience?”

Methodist Medical Center's (complex!) take on Patient Centered care

Rock Health “the seed accelerator for health start ups” is a San Fransisco non-profit dedicated to helping imaginative innovators bring fresh ideas and helpful new technologies to the healthcare landscape. Grantees receive $20,000 and a host of helpful resources and advice to make their dream project a reality. They have a great blog post up at the moment that playfully and thoroughly answers the question “what the heck is patient experience?” I highly recommend you read it here and check out their incubator program while you’re there.

First they state that over 60% of the 790 hospital executives surveyed in a poll last year  listed patient experience as one of their top 3 priorities. Next,  they go on to explain the top 10 elements of patient centered design (No surprise: number 7 is create a comfortable environment). Finally they link to a wide range of patient centered elements of healthcare including everything from a totally charming video of two elderly patients playing piano in the Mayo clinic lobby to Donna Karen designed hosptial gowns to taco trucks and farmer’s markets to the Cleveland Clinic’s Office of Patient Experience. The only thing missing: a link to some visual arts and health programming!