WARD Projects

Waitematā DHB has been planning a new healthcare facility on the North Shore Hospital campus. The 4-storey building is likely to include operating theatres and related rooms, endoscopy procedure suite, and four surgical wards of approximately 30 beds each. The concept design for the building had been completed by the start of the semester, with more detailed design expected take place shortly after. There was an opportunity to challenge and reimagine the patient experience (both digital and physical) within a ward room.

The Process.

The WARD team visited the Institute of Innovation and Improvement (i3) as part of their initial research, hearing from Robyn Whittaker (Clinical Director of Innovation at i3) and David Price (Director of Patient Experience) about Waitematā DHB and how the students could think differently about the way healthcare is provided in the hospital. The team then went on a tour of the hospital campus, and had the opportunity to role play being a patient in one of their ward rooms, gain empathy through disability simulations and experience what it would be like to wait.

"I’m quite biased, but I loved the lighting and I loved the design of the patient space, and the thinking about trying to make it a slightly warmer space, more cosy, more personal. It’s a very difficult space to improve on, but they really did some great thinking on the panels and warm lighting and the patient control and the table that could really make a huge difference."

— Robyn Whittaker, Clinical Director of Innovation at i3, Waitematā DHB

The Projects.

The WARD team approached this project with three solutions; a) a redesign of the lighting in the ward room to sync with our body's natural rhythm and give patients more control over their lighting options, b) redefining the bedside table into an in-bed ecosystem controller that is a personal and designated control station for patients, and c) a patient app and in-bed tablet app system that gives patients control and visibility over their entire healthcare journey. View each project in more detail below.

Ward Lighting.
Alice Fisher, Keana Paerata + Danbee An

Patients, whānau and staff members who currently stay, visit and work at hospitals are exposed to bright clinical lighting that breaks their natural body rhythms. This can impact a patients recovery (e.g.poor/difficult sleep, worse moods, pain and disorientation). Sleep is important to recovery. Lighting is an essential part of promoting the well-being of patients. Studies published in medicine show that effective lighting can have a positive impact in hospital environments, from reducing the length of a hospital stay to reducing depression in patients, speeding up recovery and assisting clinicians to successfully perform a range of visual tasks, such as dispensing medication and assessing patients. Creating light that helps facilitate sleep and healing is also important in a hospital environment. 

This lighting solution was designed to support the natural body clock, to support better quality sleep while in hospital. In hospital wards it can be difficult to keep track of the time of day and there are limited options for patients to adjust the lighting. This solution introduces a circadian rhythm lighting system that mimics natural light and appropriately-timed darkness to the ward to help patients, visitors and staff of the hospital to maintain their natural body rhythms. This will provide a positive lighting environment that will improve a patients’ stay, helping them to feel secure, and aid their mood, sleep and recovery. 

Better integration of lighting around the patient's bed ecosystem will create a more comfortable atmosphere and enhance the overall user experience. Studies suggest a solution that meets both the patient and staff needs lies in the use of a lighting control system that will perform a multitude of tasks — allow patients to control their immediate environment; provide different lighting options for activities such as reading and resting; and allow staff to access task lighting on an as-needs basis. Ultimately, this solution is empowering for patients by giving them more control of their bed ecosystem environment.

"I’ve learnt that I really do enjoy working [on] patient centred [projects]. I’ve also learnt a lot about working with other people and how other people work, which has been really interesting."

— Alice Fisher, Industrial Design Student

"Definitely how to work with others, especially during our circumstances working over zoom and also with people from different backgrounds of product and communication, which I really loved."

— Keana Paerata, Spatial Design Student

"It was really different to normal studio and it was just nice to take a break from the norm. Because it was integrated studio, I didn’t stick to product design and I got to do a bit of communication design or by working with spatial students I got to see how they approach projects, so I think I learnt many different ways of approaching the same brief."

— Danbee An, Industrial Design Student

In-Bed Ecosystem Controller.
Tui Meki, Amelia Lee-Chee + Javani Govender

During their stay in hospital, patients spend most of their time in bed. The environment and how they control it is an essential factor to their overall experience. Research highlighted several fundamental issues with the in-bed experience. These included a lack or failure to consider the knowledge of patient sensitivity. For example, staff have to work behind the patient creating an uneasy reaction leaving them feeling distressed and anxious. In this scenario patients may feel tense as they don’t know what is happening behind them. In addition, there is considerable uncertainty around what controls/plugs patients are allowed to touch and use. 

A patients built environment can contribute to reducing errors, falls, and infections, as well as enhancing privacy, comfort, and control. This solution is an in-bed ecosystem controller (IBEC) that brings all patient controls within arm’s reach, encouraging patients to take charge of their space. The personal station means patients can control the majority of their hospital stay environment from the comfort of their bed. Giving control to patients helps to support patient dignity and may enhance their mental and physical well-being. 

The solution has two main approaches. Staff and patient controls are physically separated. Staff controls are positioned to either side of the bed by transforming this area into privacy panels. Patient controls are moved from the wall to the beside control centre. This makes previous hard to reach buttons more accessible for patients while in bed. The IBEC brings together the bedside table, in-wall arm and bed attachments into one control centre that  provide immediate access to everything patients need. The final design solution of the IBEC includes a range of features such as:

  • Height adjustable
  • Lightweight materials
  • Accessible patient storage with a removable sleeve for easy cleaning
  • Unit powered by a rechargeable battery
  • Adjustable tray angle for different tasks (e.g. eating, reading)
  • USB ports and plugs for charging patient devices
  • Self-moving to relocate according to patient needs
  • Built-in patient controls for key features – bed adjustment, lighting and call buttons, that work alongside the bedside tablet

"I learnt how to work in a team with people who definitely have strong opinions, which has been challenging, but also very good. Working with people from different disciplines was really eye opening."

— Amelia Lee-Chee, Spatial Design Student

"It’s a good paper to get the experience of what others is like. The papers we study, we are surrounded by people who study the same thing and they’re passionate about it. But when you get to this project, everyone have a different take, which was kind of interesting , but is really good to experience now."

— Tui Meki, Industrial Design Student

"100% teamwork, because I have worked in a team before but they were like my friends so this was like completely different people, different backgrounds and design principles. So coming together and compromising, that was a really big step."

— Javani Govender, Spatial Design Student

Waitematā Patient App + Bedside Tablet
Novia Suntornjarayakul, Cassie Paotama + Kayla Gandela

Your Health Pal is a digital companion to help guide patients through their healthcare journey at North Shore Hospital. It covers their journey from admittance right through to their discharge and aftercare, enabling patients to have confidence and control over their healthcare journey. 

Unclear communication, a lack of transparency around results, appointments and consultations, as well as poor wayfinding are some of the pain points this app attempts to address. It presents a simple system that brings together the small but important tasks necessary to support a healthcare journey into an online accessible platform. The app can help patients gain a sense of security and reassurance they're in the right place, at the right time. A key feature of the app is the inclusion of a telehealth system. It allows online consultations to be held for those who may find it difficult to attend in person. 

A bedside tablet version of the app helps patients to directly interact with their healthcare journey while in hospital.The tablet app welcomes patients and provides an overview of their diagnosis in both medical and layman's terms. The tablet includes a chat feature for additional support,  FAQs, and can connect a patient with their nurse or doctor. Food can be ordered giving patients choice and visibility over their meals throughout the day. In room lighting can be controlled from within the tablet, allowing for customisation of light colour as well as the intensity of a patient's personal lights.

"I've learnt so many things. I'm from Industrial Design, but coming to this, I'm finding myself actually doing UX and UI. Coming to this project, I found that opportunity to work and just go for it. It was good."

— Novia Suntornjarayakul, Industrial Design Student

"It has definitely been a journey, there’s been a lot of ups and downs, and quite a lot of road bumps to work across, but it’s been interesting to see how we can push through those struggles, especially with the whole Covid-19 stuff, it’s quite interesting, but I feel like it prepares us well for what to expect in the future if this happens again."

— Cassie Paotama, Communication Design Student

"I’d say, definitely go for Integrated Studio, it’s a step out of what you are used to in your usual major, and giving yourself that experience outside of your degree is just irreplaceable, really."

— Kayla Gandela, Spatial Design Student

Yosuke Tanaka

Wayfinding is always a challenge, and is even more difficult when you are stressed or in a rush. This project aimed to alleviate some of this anxiety for patients and visitors to the hospital by providing a clear wayfinding map to improve visitor experience.

This design solution proposes a system of three level map system: a) an access map that directs you to the hospital campus from surrounding streets or nearby public transport stations, b) a campus map to navigate people to the right building, and c) a building map to help guide people to the right location within a building. This system simplifies maps into smaller more manageable chunks of information, focusing in on the key information one needs to know at any given point on their journey to and from the hospital. Maps will be strategically located at key decision points around the campus and within buildings.

"I’m excited about wondering where else we could think differently, where else could we bring in design students to reimagine things in a way, that we as clinicians or managers or leaders within healthcare, haven’t even considered, or haven’t even dreamt of. And how can we use that collaboration both with design students, and with patients and whānau and communities and all of the stakeholders involved. How can we draw all of that together, so that we’re all coming back to what matters and what it is that we’re trying to do. Let’s find the best way to do that, rather than just the way we’ve always done."

— Johanne Egan, Emergency Medicine, Senior Medical Officer, i3 Clinical Lead People & Culture, Waitematā DHB

Check out the ARDS team projects too.