Designing the hospital of the future as spaces that heal
The success of a treatment relies on more than the medical intervention alone.

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The success of a treatment relies on more than the medical intervention alone. At Philips it has been recognized for years that good design has the power to transform healthcare, both inside and outside the hospital.

Jos Stuyfzand, senior creative director at Philips Design Healthcare, sees the hospital of the future as an empathic environment that puts the patient in the center of the development of holistic healthcare solutions. Hence designing hospitals of the future with a focus on the individual experience, patients will be less stressed and recover faster.

Meet Jos Stuyfzand at WHINN and hear him talk about how design can facilitate spaces that heal and learn from his experiences on how to support healing through the design of physical spaces in healthcare settings.

Designing the hospital of the future as spaces that heal

How can a designer make sure that every space, whether it being a waiting room or an operating theatre, generates optimal conditions for recovery? Jos Stuyfzand, senior creative director at Philips Design Healthcare, sees the hospital of the future as an empathic environment with a focus on the individual experience.

 “Our whole conception of healthcare is being overhauled. Designers play a key role in this process, because they are quintessential in visualizing data – from patient satisfaction to productivity per square meter – and in translating the information into empathic environments. Design can facilitate spaces that heal,” Stuyfzand says.

Jos Stuyfzand attended Design Academy Eindhoven where he learned to make a good product. The starting point was usability. When he joined Philips – working first at Philips Lighting and, for the past eight years, at the company’s HealthTech Division, now the company’s core strategic focus – his attention shifted from a product’s usability to its performance. If it promotes wellbeing, it promotes healing.

“Talking about good lighting no longer meant talking about the design of a product but about whether the lighting effect creates the right atmosphere – about Ambient Experience solutions aimed at using technology to influence the human perception of spaces,” he says.

Creating an empathetic environment

So how do we create an empathic environment in the hospital of the future from a designer’s point of view?

The challenges facing Stuyfzand and his multidisciplinary team are complex. They must determine the needs of the hospital staff – how can a space facilitate optimal performance, accurate diagnostics and quality treatment? – as well as the experience of the patient. The more emotionally supported a patient feels, the quicker their recovery. The team must contemplate the wants and needs of the individual, and personalization plays an important part in this. They must also consider cultural conventions and customs.

In the Middle East, for instance, the family room is a must. To be successful, designers need close collaboration with hospital organizations and with experts in medical workflow planning, technology, operation and, finally, what Stuyfzand calls ‘people researchers’ – to better understand both the functional requirements of a space and, especially, the emotional needs of patients, relatives and staff.

“The strength of design lies in its holistic attitude, but design also plays an important facilitating role in a co-creation process that directly involves caregivers and all key stakeholders in hospital organizations,” he says

Cost-efficient service centers
The success of a treatment relies on more than the medical intervention, however, as seen in a hospital landscape that’s evolving by leaps and bounds. Hospital stays are sure to become shorter now that only the most specialized medical care will take place on the premises. The hospital is becoming more and more of a service center, a highly specialized environment that homes in on the individual’s experience while being efficient as well.

“Treatment in outpatient settings will increase. Medical innovations are advancing rapidly, and treatments that once required surgical intervention can now be done using minimally invasive techniques in many cases,” Stuyfzand says.

Chances are that some people will see it as impersonal, though. You check in online beforehand, spend a brief time in the waiting room, receive your treatment and walk out the door. Aftercare happens at home or elsewhere.

“Hospitals are extremely cost-intensive environments. If we can have ten rather than five people undergo an MRI or a CT scan per hour, that’s a good thing. It’s also important from an economic perspective to have people in the hospital for as short a time as possible, but you do run the risk that they will feel somewhat depersonalized, “ says Stuyfzand.

Inspiration from outside the sector
For inspiration in the fields of service, experience and logistics, Stuyfzand keeps an eye on airports, such as Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. He looks at how lounges are furnished, with seats that are both safe and comfortable for short-term use and reviews the airport’s logistics. As a passenger, before leaving home you check in online, select your seat, state your dietary wishes, indicate the number of bags – even request a courier service to pick up your baggage, allowing you to hop on the plane, unencumbered. It’s an approach that befits the hospital of the future, Stuyfzand says: intelligent, serviceable, personal, efficient and safe. The patient has uninterrupted access to a care network from home, a neighborhood medical Center and admission to specialized hospitals.

8 tips to support healing

  • Distract the patient: Offering the patient an iPad or another visually enticing interactive device during a stressful procedure reduces anxiety.
  • Alter the anticipated experience: Transform the waiting room and change a long wait into a pause. A moment’s rest boosts energy levels and promotes relaxation. 
  • Keep it short: Everything in a hospital is aimed at keeping the stay as short as possible. But ‘short’ is a word that also applies to wayfinding inside the building, for patients, visitors and medical staff . A wayfinding design that benefits pedestrian flow is essential.
  • Use daylight to heal: Daylight is crucial to the healing process and has a positive effect on the wellbeing of physicians and visitors.
  • Stimulate the senses: Replace static lighting with dynamic lighting. People thrive in environments in which light, image, sound and touch merge to form a holistic experience.
  • Make it personal: Adaptive healing rooms with highly intuitive user interfaces help patients to create soothing environments tailored to personal needs.
  • Reduce stress: Children who have to undergo an MRI scan are often less anxious when their favorite cuddly toy goes into the ‘tunnel’ with them.
  • Provide supportive aids: Spaces should be designed to stimulate team interaction and collaboration. Private lounges help surgeons to relax between operations in a reality-like environment that features family photos, living room acoustics and artificial daylight.
  • Facilitate collaboration: Healthcare is a co-creative field based on patient centric thinking. Facilitating cooperation among patients, relatives and clinical teams is important.

Meet Jos Stuyfzand at WHINN: 10/10 2018 14.05 - 15.05, Track 3

Come visit us at WHINN at stand no 64

Contact info: Egil V. Nilsen, 

About Royal Philips
Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) is a leading health technology company focused on improving people's health and enabling better outcomes across the health continuum from healthy living and prevention, to diagnosis, treatment and home care. Philips leverages advanced technology and deep clinical and consumer insights to deliver integrated solutions. Headquartered in the Netherlands, the company is a leader in diagnostic imaging, image-guided therapy, patient monitoring and health informatics, as well as in consumer health and home care. Philips generated 2017 sales of EUR 17.8 billion and employs approximately 75,000 employees with sales and services in more than 100 countries. News about Philips can be found at