Philips’ people-focused research methodology supports healing environments

October 18, 2011

The opening of the Philips Hospital Lab marks an important step toward the creation of innovative healing environments for hospitals around the world. On this occasion, Philips is proud to present three of the concepts currently being developed for use in key hospital areas: the ICU, the PET-CT uptake room, and the Neurology Department. These concepts are each designed to contribute to reducing patient stress and enhancing clinical outcomes. Each concept has its origins in an intensive research process described in this backgrounder, and ends with a validation process in a real hospital setting described in the backgrounder "Reducing anxiety in PET CT preparation rooms".


Opportunities for innovation

Researchers have long understood that, in hospitals, environmental factors play a significant role in patient outcomes. For example, patients with access to natural cycles of daylight and darkness, with control over their surroundings, and with appropriate levels of stimulus tend to heal better and faster. So, by enhancing their environments with advanced lighting, sound and other methods, researchers hope to make patients’ time in hospital shorter, more pleasant and, ultimately, more beneficial.


In order to identify the best opportunities for improving healing environments, Philips researchers work closely with a range of healthcare stakeholders. Rather than leading with a "technology push", they engage with doctors, nurses, patients, their families and others to define their specific needs.


Philips’ research methodology

Each new Healing Environment project begins with extensive desk research, including interviews with experts in each relevant field. However, it is impossible to gain a complete understanding of a particular hospital area or department without first-hand experience – and that’s why field research lies at the core of the Philips approach.


In preparation for their work on the Adaptive Healing Rooms for stroke victims, for example, members of Philips Research, Philips Design and Philips Healthcare visited Neurology Departments in several hospitals. The visits, which lasted from three to five days, had several objectives: (1) to map the experience flow for neurology patients, families and caregivers in an in-patient care environment, (2) to understand clinical best practices, and (3) to investigate aspects of the healing process that could be supported by an adaptive environment.


Step-by-step immersion

The visits comprised several stages. They began with a guided tour providing an overview of the departments’ layouts, activities and workflows, as well as an introduction to the main stakeholders. Next, researchers spent a considerable amount of time shadowing patients, nurses, doctors and specialists as they went through their day. This permitted the researchers to view the neurology care experience from the perspective of people in a variety of roles.


The next stage consisted of observation and informal encounters. Researchers sought to observe and understand the many activities going on in every part of the department – everything from the use of facilities and equipment to personal interactions. When possible, they talked to those present to glean more information about what aspects of their environment aid or disrupt their work or their recoveries. Finally, the researchers organized key stakeholder interviews to obtain deeper insight into individuals’ mindsets, motivations, experiences and needs.


Driven by partnership

One of the most important aspects of this research methodology is that it is driven at every turn by Philips’ partnership with those who have the most to gain from the projected healing environment: patients, their families, and the hospital staff. That’s why, at the end of their visits, the Philips researchers held multi-stakeholder sessions to present a summary of their findings (including a draft care cycle experience flow). In fact, the feedback and discussion about patient needs resulting from those sessions played an important role in inspiring new concepts.


Just as importantly, it was the hospital stakeholders themselves who had the final word on the many ideas generated by the research process. When the Philips researchers completed the initial stages of their work, they presented the hospitals with a choice of potential innovations and improvements for healing environments. The concepts on display in the Hospital Lab today have been developed specifically to meet the most urgent needs and desires of those key stakeholders. In this sense, they are the perfect example of people-focused and meaningful innovation.


More information:
Philips opens Hospital Research Area to develop innovative healing environments (press release)



Adaptive Healing Room

Adaptive patient room during the doctor’s visit 
Preparing for sleep  
Adaptive patient room during the doctor’s visit 

PET-CT Uptake 

The patient is empowered by choosing his own personalized environment 
The patient lies in the ambient environment (image 1) 

The patient lies in the ambient environment (image 2) 

Delirium Reduction

Analyzing the acoustic conditions in the Intensive Care Unit (image 1) 
Analyzing the acoustic conditions in the Intensive Care Unit (image 2)