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Design of the Times: Factoring in Patient Emotions for Future Innovations

GE

GE Healthcare recently partnered with the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) for a 12 month project entitled: "The Compassion Project."  

The

The initiative called on design students in the College, to create potential solutions to ease the healthcare experience which breast cancer patients are subjected to.

Concepts

Concepts and designs were borne out of talks conducted with and observations made of healthcare professionals and breast cancer sufferers, amongst others. 

GE Healthcare’s Caring MR Suites are a perfect reflection of the organization’s 'caring hands' design philosophy, which serve to look after the emotional well-being of a patient using lighting, interior décor, scenery and music.

Patients can choose a theme from 16 artfully selected combinations of mood-lighting, visual scenery, and musical backgrounds before they undergo an MR exam.

This gives them control over their environment, and enhances their ability to remain comfortable during the procedure.

GE is taking a step further in enhancing the patient experience. Using human emotion as a foundation for their design thinking process, GE Healthcare recently partnered with the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) for a 12 month project entitled: "The Compassion Project." 

The initiative called on design students and students from many other disciplines in the College, to create potential solutions to ease the healthcare experience to which breast cancer patients are subjected to.

Concepts and designs were borne out of talks conducted with and observations made of healthcare professionals and breast cancer sufferers, amongst others. 

An innovation that surfaced as a result was a rethink to the normal hospital gown. The project, named ‘Able,’ changed the gown into a style that resembled everyday-wear, which can be worn outside of the hospital setting.

Other concepts focused on the intravenous drip that is attached to a patient undergoing chemotherapy. The innovation encased the intravenous device within a miniature and fashionably designed transportable bag, so the individual is free to move around the hospital without an intravenous pole following them. The objective was to give the patient independence and dignity during a difficult time in their lives.

Bob Schwartz, General Manager of Global Design and User Experience, leads the team that has developed this kind of design thinking for GE Healthcare. Based in Waukesha, Wisconsin, and with a total of six studios in five countries, Bob’s 60-person organization consists of industrial and interaction designers, design researchers, human factors experts, cognitive psychologists and social anthropologists. These specialists offer unique insights into human actions and what determines a delightful end-to end human and environmental experience.

Schwartz describes design thinking as part of a larger ecosystem that creates innovation using an assortment of tools. These tools are pieces of his team’s "Menlo Innovation Ecosystem," named in honor of GE founder Thomas Edison, who advanced many of his innovations in Menlo Park, New Jersey.

In fostering this ecosystem, GE Healthcare forms "ensembles" of people as opposed to "hierarchical” groups." Here they may engage in techniques of theatrical improvisation that helps to reinterpret sometimes trivial ideas into innovative ones, by accepting and adding to the ideas of others. GE Healthcare believes this process promotes a "group genius" mentality in which participants utilize creative tools from their formative years as children and which enabled them to unleash their imaginations unabated. 

"Suddenly, they're much more comfortable, everybody smiles, and the creativity and the imagination comes out because the fear is gone," Schwartz told www.biztimes.com.

"We're here to take GE Healthcare and its wonderful technology and connect it to the emotional benefits we want to deliver to patients, families (and) practitioners," he added.