Healthcare Innovation: Rethinking Hospital Gowns

Posted on Sep 14, 2010 by Steve Tyink

We love new thinking in healthcare – especially regarding ways to better connect with patients and families, as well as ways to reduce the issues and challenges associated with healing. Imagine if we could offer decreases in healing time and reductions in anxiety and stress at a fraction of current healthcare costs? How do we do this, you ask? By starting small, but thinking big. Innovators in the field of healthcare could learn a lesson from The Orthopedic & Sports Institute. Their new Recovery Inn was born out of extremely simple, yet very smart research, some of which focused on the traditional hospital gown.

For years patients have complained about hospital gowns, to no avail. Although the traditional hospital gown was born in the 1920’s, the healthcare industry has changed by leaps and bounds since then. So why haven’t healthcare researchers picked up on this issue?

Here’s the thing about the research: patients never said, “Why don’t you re-design the hospital gown to resemble nice, warm, fleece pants?” They never said “Why don’t you invent a gown that gives me options, so I can personalize it for my needs?” They have simply moved through standard processes without complaining (all while knowing their back-sides were exposed to their friends and neighbors).  In this case, innovation was developed from caregiver team discussions at The Orthopedic & Sports Institute. How did caregivers know changes were necessary? Years of listening to patients talk about how challenging current delivery methods were.

Listening and facilitating innovation through project and facility stakeholders is what elevates the services of healthcare organizations. The job of any company is to identify unmet needs—pain points—opportunities for the industry—and close the gap between today and the future. These types of open discussions reveal genuine opportunities for advancement.

Innovation like this doesn’t require asking leading questions to patients (most likely doing that would simply give you a new color for the same old gown), nor do you need to ask patients to design a solution. All you need to do is watch, listen and facilitate through tools, what may be possible. Once you observe that “patients seem to be unhappy with the feel, openings and comfort of the current gown,” the stage is set for possible solutions to an age-old problem. Caregivers know, they understand, they get it. They have been listening to patient concerns throughout their entire careers. Now is the time to give them the opportunity to use that knowledge to elevate service offerings in order to better care for patients.

Fashion designers are beginning to get in on the action. Click here to learn more about “Haute Hospital Gowns.”

About Steve Tyink

Steve Tyink leads Miron’s experience-based design efforts, assists with process and lean improvement, and adds elements of innovation to business development and corporate strategies to differentiate the Miron brand. Steve also applies his expertise to serve as a resource to those seeking ways to create innovative facilities that encourage an emotional attachment for their own customers and employees.

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2 Responses to Healthcare Innovation: Rethinking Hospital Gowns

  • Amy S. says:

    News you can use! Consumer feedback is great, but most of us don’t make the kinds of suggestions that lead to truly innovative and game-changing products or services. Like the caregivers in this article, more business leaders need to recognize those golden moments for listening.

  • Bill Meyer says:

    Good thoughts, Steve! It is so much easier to really hear our clients when we listen for more than just an opportunity to talk about ourselves!

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