5 Ways Hospitals Are Using Experiential Design to Make Their Hospital Stays Better

More and more hospitals are focusing on the experience of a hospital visit to understand how they can help patients feel more comfortable during their stay. They are using a process called design thinking, which means they research the process of an ordinary hospital stay and use that information to curate an experience that is extraordinary. This helps patients interpret hospital situations differently, and come away feeling less fearful or frustrated.

Here are a few examples of innovative hospitals that are using amazing techniques and design to help their patients:

1. Create a getaway.

Artist Yoko Sen created a therapeutic ‘Tranquility Room‘ at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C. for hospital staff to recharge during stressful shifts and long hours. The space uses calming lights, aromas and sounds to help staff relax and return to a comfortable rhythm so they can continue to provide the best care for their patients. When caretakers are feeling rested and calm, patients draw from that energy and have a smoother experience during their stay.

Juliana Children's Hospital. Image courtesy of segd.org

Juliana Children's Hospital.
Image courtesy of segd.org

2. Create a story.

The Juliana Children’s Hospital in Den Haag, Netherlands has a child-focused experience designed by Tinker Engineers. Patients follow a narrative with recurring characters placed throughout murals and wall decorations, and even showing up on screens in the elevators. The designers used these characters to create comfort and consistency for the patients. The characters in the hallway to the OR, for example, will appear again on iPads in the patient’s recovery room to check on them. This storyline instills a sense of familiarity and helps patients feel relief.

3. Create wonder.

Design consultancy IDEO worked with Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando, Florida to create a hospital experience that was patient-focused, comforting and innovative. By researching the process of visiting a hospital, including the many touchpoints patients have with staff, the environment and other patients, IDEO was able to design a cohesive experience that is both child and family friendly. The hospital comforts children with amenities such as color-changing room lights and outdoor-themed areas, but also focuses on the family with guided wayfinding and lounges stocked for a comfortable stay.

Beacon Children's Hospital. Image courtesy of  buildingindiana.com

Beacon Children's Hospital.
Image courtesy of buildingindiana.com

4. Create space.

Among the bustle of everything going on in hospitals, Beacon Children’s Hospital in South Bend, Indiana made their hallways feel like a breath of fresh air. The hospital is designed to look like the outdoors, following different nature themes throughout their different floors. Because many patients and their families have extended stays, it can be hard for them to leave their rooms or find an escape. By providing murals, artwork and themed lounge areas for patients and families, the hospital encourages them to ambulate and get respite from any worry or stress.

5. Create a connection.

Even small details can make a big difference in the hospital timeline. At Rotterdam Eye Hospital in Rotterdam, Netherlands, hospital staff used design thinking to understand ways to make patients feel comfortable even before they enter the hospital. Before pediatric patients arrive for their hospital stay, they are sent a shirt with a particular animal on it. During their procedure, their doctors and nurses will wear buttons with the same animal on it to create an immediate connection, creating a feeling of security. When patients feel comfortable with their caretakers, hospital care is easier, faster and more harmonious.


As ever-increasing attention is being focused on patient experience, these hospitals are helping lead the way in revolutionizing the healthcare process to provide patients with excellent stays. Have you had a great hospital experience? Share it with us!

Anna KonsonComment