A Snappy New Look: Improving the Patient Experience

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“Think of something that bugs you, then think of a solution.” Those were the instructions that Jessica’s 4th grade teacher gave to her students tasked with creating inventions for their school science fair.  Jessica (now the Edison Awards Program Manager) hated the unpopped kernels in her popcorn, so she created a “kernel catcher” that removed them.

Fast forward twenty years and Jessica herself was ready to pop with her first baby, and thanks to Henry Ford Hospital’s following that same advice her 4th grade teacher had given her years before, her labor and delivery were especially wonderful.  Henry Ford Hospital had listened to something that has bugged patients for decades—those horrible hospital gowns that bare your backside.

New mom Jessica in Model G Patient Gown
New mom Jessica in Model G Patient Gown

Last summer, before she was pregnant, Jessica had read about the Model G Patient Gown’s innovative construction that created both patient privacy and enhanced ease of use for caretakers, saying it would be a great candidate for an Edison Award. When Henry Ford Hospital heard that she was expecting this spring, they sent her a Model G Patient Gown to wear.  (See 2015 Edison Awards Finalists.)

Jessica could not have been happier with her experience, stating that the medical staff at her local hospital embraced this latest innovation in hospital gowns.   She said later that the nurses and anesthesiologist were very enthused about the gown and kept asking her where she got it.

Jenna, the Labor & Delivery Nurse, had this to say about the Model G Patient Gown:

“I really loved it because the sleeves unsnap, so I had access to changing the IV without any difficulty.  Also, we do a lot of skin-to-skin now once babies are born, so we were able to open the front of it so the baby could be nice and close to mom without any trouble.

“[Other] gowns . . . open in the back, so we don’t have any access to the front and they do not snap for the sleeves, so you have to unfasten the IV and feed it through the sleeve which takes longer. I highly recommend it and I had a wonderful experience with it.”

“The name – Model G – is a tribute to hospital founder Henry Ford’s innovative and iconic Model T automobile,” says Scott Dulchavsky, M.D., CEO of the institute.  The idea originated when students at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit collaborated with the Henry Ford Innovation Institute to improve items used in hospital settings.

The gown completely closes in both the front and back, and can be used for inpatient stays and medical testing, including MRI and CT scans. Instead of the unwieldy, uncomfortable ties in the back, the gown instead implements adjustable snaps on the front and shoulders, and can easily be adjusted in size from medium to extra-large.  The design allows for easy accessibility for IV’s.

Model G Gown - back view“Our No. 1 goal with this design was fixing the backside of the gown – patients’ biggest complaint – while still allowing the health care team full access to the patient,” says Michael Forbes, a product designer at the Innovation Institute at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, where the new gown was invented and tested by patients.  “The patient hospital gown is the one object that actually touches every single patient in health care, so a simple change – like closing the backside – can have a big impact on a patient’s hospital stay or outpatient procedure.”

Countless innovation leaders have capitalized on this method of finding what bugs people and creating a solution.  Visit Edison Awards to see more examples.

 

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Mindy Manes

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