COMBATING WAITING ROOM ANXIETY WITH INTERACTIVE DESIGN
Taking the worry and stress out of waiting to see the doctor means giving kids and parents something more inspiring, interactive, and distracting to do.
Philips Electronics has helped to transform the delivery and experience of healthcare for decades, creating everything from MRIs to ventilators. The one place Philips hadn’t transformed? The dreaded waiting room. THRIVE* direction helped transform Philip’s legacy of technical innovation into an interactive experience for the parents and children at Mercy Medical Center in Arkansas.
In an effort to improve the Women’s and Children’s waiting area—a nondescript room in Mercy’s Bentonville center—we started by exploring problems in similar spaces. We discovered that, in waiting rooms, there’s no escape or distraction—problems that are particularly hard on mothers with small children. Kids get fidgety and nervous without adequate diversions, while parents feel trapped, afraid to roam too far and miss the call of the doctor or nurse. Both situations cause stress for occupants, and exist in stark contrast to the high-tech cures and devices used hospital-wide. Humanity seems to get lost in the shuffle.
Since kids were a primary demographic in Mercy’s waiting area, we considered how to make the experience happier and more relaxing through play. We concepted three play-based directions—team, intellectual and creative—then created scenarios to exemplify each visually and narratively. The creative play concept was ultimately chosen.
“Mercy is extremely grateful to Philips for helping us transform the healthcare environment for our visitors.”Susan Barrett, President, Mercy Health System of Northwest Arkansas
Out of three play-based concepts came the wall-sized Imagination Canvas: a 14- by 6-foot, interactive LED playground that enticed kids to paint with light—alone, in groups or with caregivers. The result: engaged, happy children with less reason to stress mom out with 100 choruses of “can we go yet?”
In the end, the Imagination Canvas made people of all ages a little happier on some of the toughest days of their lives. It also received great press from Wired Magazine, Gizmodo, and Engadget to name a few. Moreover, it helped move the needle toward the humanization of healthcare.