Improving patient experience through design thinking in healthcare

Sparks Health System in Fort Smith, Arkansas, US is a large regional hospital that offers a broad range of innovative cancer care services. PET/CT is used to treat a range of cancers, but it is challenging to get a patient to relax while the radioactive material (18F-FDG) is being injected and taken up in the body.
 

When the facility was constructing its new Sparks Radiation Treatment Center in 2011, it wanted to implement state-of-the-art techniques for improving patient experience in the PET/CT suite.

Sparks worked with Philips healthcare consulting experts to design an Ambient Experience solution that uses dynamic light, projection and sound to create a patient-friendly, soothing environment for those undergoing PET/CT imaging procedures.

Ambient Experience gives patients an opportunity to manage their stress. It put clinicians in control by improving procedural efficiency and patient compliance. And it conveys an attitude of “well-being” with a focus on patient satisfaction that can become a differentiating factor for a hospital or cancer center.

Transforming the PET/CT experience at Sparks Medical Center
Transforming the PET/CT experience at Sparks Medical Center.
The fact that we have provided [patients] with a distraction or entertainment … to take their mind off the radioactive agent is a really positive thing. It gives them something else to focus on.”

-Bruce A. Cross, MD, Radiation Oncologist,

Sparks Health System

Our Approach
 

Philips healthcare consulting experts work closely with key stakeholders to understand the clinical, functional and emotional needs of a patient population. Design thinking in healthcare is then applied to transform the patient experience. 

At the Sparks Radiation Treatment Center, the Ambient Experience suite incorporates innovative elements in the uptake room and the PET/CT exam room designed for improving patient experience and enhancing the clinical process:

 

  • Uptake room: To calm nervous patients during injection, the walls of the uptake room are bathed in a warm-colored glow, and patients are provided with a comfortable chair.
  • PET/CT exam room: Patients entering the exam room can select from several different room themes. The selected theme is reflected in colored lighting from a skylight and animated projected images, accompanied by soothing music and other sounds.
The tropical beach scenes are especially popular with adult patients at Sparks Health System.

Results
 

In the opinion of Dr. Bruce A. Cross, MD, Radiation Oncologist, Sparks Health System, the value of Ambient Experience lies in delivering a more successful PET/CT examination because you have a calm, relaxed and cooperative patient.

 

“I’ve been very impressed that Sparks went all out with the Ambient Experience. I am convinced, from my 25 years of experience reading PET scans, that we do a better job here. How much of that is patient cooperation or the excellent algorithms in the technology is hard to tell, but I feel very secure that we’re doing a better job,” says Cross.

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