December 11, 2012
How do you design a better patient chair? For us it began with conversations, more than 200 of them. We spoke with caregivers, patients, and other support personnel to find out what works and what doesn’t. We also consulted with ergonomists, physical therapists, and gerontologists to understand the recovery process. We learned a lot, and the resulting design became the Nala Chair.
Patients need to be comfortable—physically as well as emotionally. One way the Nala Chair addresses this is by mimicking the natural movement of a person’s body: tilting and pivoting at the ankle, knee, and hip. The motion of the chair is relaxed and controlled; heavier patients will not recline too quickly and lighter ones will not move forward too quickly. Nala’s arms, long and wide, provide patients with ample place to grip while getting in and out of the chair—ensuring patients feel secure.
For caregivers, transferring seated patients up and out of a chair can be a strenuous task. To assist them, Nala was designed with a leaf spring to reduce the physical effort needed to move a patient. To simplify cleaning, Nala was designed with sizeable gaps between components to minimize debris build-up. Resilient materials and finishes were selected to stand up to the rigors of healthcare environments.
We believe that design is a process that begins with people. That’s why we talk to the right people, ask lots of questions, and listen carefully to their answers. The results of these conversations, as in the case of Nala, can be comfortable and healthy.
November 1, 2012
We believe that design is a process that begins with people. This philosophy began with our first Design Director Gilbert Rohde who said that design was the only honest way to make furniture that served people.
In healthcare, serving people means giving special attention to patients, nurses, doctors, and other people involved in the continuum of care. Herman Miller does this by understanding and empathizing with each person’s experience. We then do our best to share these insights with product development teams through reports, hallway conversations, and workshops. The results become the award-winning designs like the Oasis Overbed Table and Compass System.
Our people-approach to design was recently recognized by Planetree, a nonprofit and long-time advocate of patient-centered care. Invited to become a member of their Planetree Visionary Design Network (PVDN), Herman Miller works with the organization and its partners to inspire and create healing spaces that begin with people.
August 16, 2012
Pitt County Memorial Hospital Chapel, a LS3P project. Photo: Mark Herboth
Just like any good design, the best examples of healthcare architecture are human-centered and problem solving. Marc Marchant, Vice President and Principal with Charleston, South Carolina-based LS3P Associates, recently spoke with Discover about the complicated yet rewarding world of healthcare design. Marchant, a thirteen-year industry veteran, is a former recipient of the Herman Miller Health Care and American Institute of Architects’ Healthcare Interns Scholarship.
What are a few of the challenges unique to designing spaces for healthcare?
In healthcare, there are complicated buildings that require a very solution-based outcome—not just for the building, but for the patients and staff. How do you create a building that comforts patients, creates a meaningful work environment for staff and is extremely functional? How do you take something as mundane as an MRI room and create a space that is conducive to keeping patients calm during an otherwise unnerving procedure?
How do you work with a client to help them stay true to their vision?
The design and construction process can take years, so it starts with the design team and owner collaborating to establish the big vision and always looking back at that big idea to make sure they are achieving it. Everyone needs to have buy-in from the beginning to achieve the vision.
Design, Healthcare, What's Up
February 1, 2012
Physicians and nurses work through a space planning exercise. Photo: Joint Commission Resources
The design process can be overwhelming if you’re unfamiliar with its various phases, tools, and lingo. A new workshop aims to give healthcare professionals the skills to positively influence patient safety and quality during the design and construction of future healthcare environments.
Learning to read blueprints, articulate a future vision, and design for flexibility, these and other skills are covered in the Safe Health Design Learning Academy. This three-day session is organized by Joint Commission Resources (JCR)—a not-for-profit healthcare accreditation organization—and sponsored by Herman Miller.
Giving physicians, nurses, and healthcare leadership an active voice in the design of healthcare will result in safer spaces, better patient care, and satisfied caregivers—all noble goals.
The next JCR Safe Health Design Learning Academy will be held in April 23-25, 2012; sign up now.
Better World, Design, Healthcare
November 8, 2011
“If we think about architecture as simply beautiful objects,” says Michael Murphy, founding partner of Mass Design Group, “then we fail to talk about the process which creates those objects. It’s labor—the construction of craft—that produces beauty.”
Consider Butaro Hospital in Rwanda, an example of MASS Design’s belief in first-rate healthcare facilities for the third world and investing in the local economy as a means of breaking the cycle of poverty. For Butaro’s wall construction, local Rwandans became the masons: hand-chipping volcanic rock and beautifully shaping each piece so they fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.
Built 100 percent by the community, Butaro’s walls are as much symbolic as they are functional. They testify to a community that labored together, using newly learned skills, to build a hospital for themselves.
Patients benefit from their labors, too, in the design of the hospital. Placing beds in the center, making each bed a window seat creates a positive patient experience. An innovative airflow design minimizes the spread of airborne diseases.
Butaro Hospital is functional, innovative, and beautiful. But, to the community, its best design was the process by which it was created.
Herman Miller is excited about working together with MASS. Learn more here.
October 17, 2011
The paint has dried and the doors have opened on a new Herman Miller Healthcare Customer Experience Center that engages and inspires.
To engage visitors, we designed plenty of hands-on experiences. We encourage customers to interact with and experiment with products. Visitors can try the Oasis overbed table while lying in bed. They can rearrange the modular tiles of the Compass System and see first-hand the Herman Miller Performance System.
Inspiration comes in the form of settings—from waiting rooms, to patient rooms, as well as laboratories. Visitors see thoughtful, realistic solutions to their problems, as well as many that really make them think.
Engaging and inspiring, the aim of our Customer Experience Center is to help people realize the power of space.
August 15, 2011
Gianfranco Zaccai pretends to be a lot of things: Chinese parent, a basketball player, and a child with diabetes to name a few. When asked to work on a healthcare project, Zaccai and his team at Continuum, the design consultancy he co-founded, built a fake hospital room and pretended to be hospital patients. Why? “To empathize,” replied Zaccai in a recent Wall Street Journal article.
Zaccai isn’t interested in producing a “better” healthcare product—his goal is to create a better healthcare experience. Which is exactly what he and Continuum achieved in the Compass modular furniture system for Herman Miller Healthcare. More than 550 clinicians, hospital administrators, architects, and designers were interviewed to find the most important unmet needs in how patient and exam rooms are designed now. The result was a deep understanding of what makes a better experience for everyone involved: the patient, the caregiver, the family, and the administrator. Because, as Zaccai says, “The opportunity for innovation is finding the sweet spot where needs overlap.”
July 11, 2011
Good design addressed needs, and in healthcare—where patients, nurses, doctors, and support staff are all interacting in one environment—there are a lot of people with a lot of different needs. Gary Cruce, design principle at Nemschoff, understands this and the award-winning Oasis overbed table is a result.
Gary and I recently had an opportunity to talk about the design of Oasis.
What are some of the issues relating to overbed tables?
There are a lot of different people competing for the same small space on an overbed table. For patients, it is often the only place they can reach and store things while sitting in bed. Nurses use part of the table for setup and prep when they are in the room. And then, threes times a day it’s cleared to hold a food tray.
Research was a part of the project early on, and we worked closely with Kerrie Cardon, a nurse consultant with Herman Miller Healthcare. A photo survey she put together, for example, really helped us understand all of the ways [an overbed table] was being used.
How did this understanding translate into the design of Oasis?
We started by creating a top with a low-walled space at one end to better organize items, but without being too prescriptive and creating cup holders and niches for specific items. It’s easy to move things there when the nurse is working or the food tray arrives. On the column you sometimes find a box of some kind; we designed a small tray instead, which we left open for easy access and visibility. We added tall edges to the tray to keep things from falling off.
Design, Healthcare, Innovation
May 6, 2011
“Companies prosper when they tap into a power that every one of us already has – the ability to reach outside of ourselves and connect with other people, to walk in someone else’s shoes.” That’s Dev Patnaik, author of Wired to Care , speaking. He believes empathy is key to innovation. And everyone from marketing to R&D benefits from a better understanding of their customers and end users.
We agree. Empathy plays an important role in Herman Miller research, design, and development of new products, particularly in healthcare. We gain empathy by engaging with nurses and other caregivers in multiple ways. Facility tours, focus groups, gaming sessions, and job shadowing help us develop insight into the work of caregivers, to really understand what they do, what their work day is like. We then do our best to share those experiences with product development teams through reports, hallway conversations, and workshops.
We believe products like Compass express the empathy we have with caregivers, patients, families, and administrators.
Healthcare, What's Up
April 20, 2011
A new Herman Miller experience is taking shape as we put the final touches on our new Healthcare Experience Center. The new space, conceived as a holistic experience that begins the moment guests arrive, was a year in the making.
The Center and its adjoining spaces are the collaborative result of healthcare experts, architects, designers, nurse consultants, salespeople, our customer experience team, and many more—a true team effort.
Covering the entire continuum of care, the Center demonstrates Herman Miller Healthcare’s human-centered approach to product development and shows the range of solutions that Herman Miller Healthcare and Nemschoff provide.