Institute for Patient-Centered Design

Patient-Centered Design Online

Publication of Institute for Patient-Centered Design, Inc.

December 2013/January 2014, Issue 27

In This Issue
Wrapping-Up 2013 with the Patient Experience Simulation Lab
Letter from a Parent
Quick Links


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We at the Institute are always looking for new ideas to engage patients, families and design teams for the improvement of healthcare environments.  Please send us your thoughts or tell us how we can best serve as a resource in your work.
Below, we have included an update from our NICU Simulation Lab, which will live on in 2014 with new design solutions incorporated. Please continue reading for more information on designing with patients in mind.  We hope to hear from you soon! 
 Tammy Thompson


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Wrapping-Up 2013 with a Look at the Patient Experience Simulation Lab

by Elizabeth S. Jones

A real lactation nurse and NICU mom simulate an activity with a participant while Drs. Robert White and Mardelle Shepley, both instrumental in the project's development, contribute to the discussion.

The 2013 Patient Experience Simulation Lab at the annual Healthcare Design Conference exceeded expectations and offered conference attendees the opportunity to participate in an interactive workshop unlike any of its kind.  

The full-scale mock NICU Simulation Lab was open the entire duration of the conference, allowing participants numerous opportunities to experience the NICU environment, while also granting them the opportunity to voice their professional and personal opinions on the design.

While many participants had unique experiences of their own in a  NICU, the team from the Institute, and its cadre of sponsors and partners gave participants a full-circle experience, so that each participant walked away with a full understanding of how the NICU works, as well as ideas on how to improve future design elements.   


The mock NICU Simulation Lab design was uniquely based on the design of this year's three winning teams in the design competition: (first place) Stantec Architecture Ltd. for Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto; (second place) Hord Coplan Macht, Inc. for MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center in Baltimore; and (third place) McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture for Bon Secours St. Francis Health System (Eastside Campus) in Greenville, SC.

For this program, workshop participants were able to participate in three types of simulations, including the virtual reality experience (provided by WorldViz) which allowed participants to become immersed in an alternate NICU design in order to compare its features to those in the physical model.  Next, they walked through the physical model, with an opportunity to touch, feel and experience thoughtful solutions to NICU design challenges. The third and final component was an augmented reality tour of the top scoring design submissions, which provided workshop participants with a multi-dimensional look at the designs that inspired the model. This tool, created by research partner SimTigrate Design Lab, is commonly used to enable stakeholders to toggle through various design options before committing to the final design.  (Find more information on the research component of this project in an upcoming issue of Healthcare Design Magazine.)

It was not only educational to see this carefully studied design come to life, but the final product was simply amazing. From the clean and smart prefabricated wall system to the innovative medical equipment, to the use of solid surface materials integrating art into the casework, this year's Patient Experience Simulation Lab was a major success. Learn more at


Institute for Patient-Centered Design will reassemble the NICU model in the metro Atlanta area in order to continue the research, engage students for more innovation, and educate the local healthcare design profession.

Stay connected with the Institute in 2014 to learn more about future projects including the Call for Design Submissions in the 2014 Patient Experience Simulation Lab Design Competition, as well as ways that you can make a difference in your own projects through patient-centered design.


Letter from a Parent: Empathy is a crucial component of design   

As a healthcare architect often concerned with the myriad of variables and priorities of our complex projects I often think about the family member and their comfort and participation in the long stay areas of the hospital (i.e. inpatient beds, surgical waiting, etc.) I confess that I'm not sure we spend as much time considering visitor needs throughout the rest of the facility. 

As a father, I made a trip to the emergency department in the middle of the night with our six-month old son. His cough became a wheeze overnight and by midnight his breathing was labored. After a call to the pediatric nurse, 20 minutes in the shower and 10 minutes outside in the cold - both trying to open my son's lungs, she asked us to go to the hospital. We were seen immediately, triaged, and placed in a room. A nurse and a mid level provider evaluated our son, ordered some tests, some meds and a consult. All in the first ten minutes. Then we waited. And we waited. The process improvement designer in me saw opportunities for change left and right, but none of that mattered as much to me in that moment as the plastic chair. As my wife sat on the stretcher soothing our son, I was sitting in a plastic chair wedged between the stretcher and the sink. It was 3:00 am by this time and I was exhausted. The color of the floor, the pattern on the old cubicle curtain, the past-its-prime laminate counter were all things I would obsess over as a designer and none of those things made a bit of difference to me in that moment.

I wanted desperately just to rest my head against something and maybe recline a few degrees. We spent about three and half hours in the ED that night. Perhaps 20 minutes of that was actual care interaction. The rest was waiting. I am not sure how much of the waiting might be avoided through process improvement, but any amount of waiting would have been more tolerable if I had been comfortable. It wouldn't have taken much to improve my comfort and it would have improved by satisfaction substantially. 
Empathy is a crucial component of design. As designers we must seek ways during the development of the project to understand the needs of the visitors and what resources will truly improve their experience. They may be less costly and fancy than we think.


Jonathan M. Bykowski, AIA


Senior Planner

Lean Six Sigma Green Belt


Calendar of Events:
January 24, 2014 (Submit your Proposal Today!)
Deadline to Submit a Presentation Proposal for the 2014 Healthcare Design Conference
Online Submission Form
February 27- March 1, 2014
Healthcare Design Academy
Washington, DC
May 3-6, 2014
Environment for Aging Conference
Anaheim, CA

August 6-8, 2014

The 6th International Conference on Patient- and Family-Centered Care: Partnerships for Quality & Safety
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada


November 15-18, 2014 | San Diego, CA

2014 Healthcare Design Conference

San Diego Convention Center


We are proud to continue our association with the Healthcare Design Conference! This annual event engages the leaders in healthcare facility design on the most current, innovative, and evidence-based advances in the field.


As a courtesy to our readers, we have listed information about upcoming events and links to related websites for more details. This does not necessarily constitute a relationship between Institute for Patient-Centered Design and any of the websites, events or organizations listed. Nor does this represent an endorsement or guarantee of any kind. While we strive to keep such information updated, we make no legal or otherwise binding commitment to do so. We do not guarantee any of the information on the websites listed. Nor do we guarantee the events themselves. 


The 2013 Patient & Family-Centered NICU


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