Hospitals are places for the sick to get better. However many hospitals are designed in a way to be depressing and make the recovery time frame for the patients and their relatives a tiring and exhausting period. Long dark corridors, impersonal waiting room, typical hospital smell all these adds on to the frustration of visiting the doctor in a hospital. Many a times the attenders who accompany the patient can’t help but wonder how not to catch an infection. Rotterdam Eye Hospital, a non-profit organisation in Netherlands is one such hospital which faced similar issues but trough design thinking they have overcome this negative atmosphere and transformed the whole hospital. By incorporating design thinking and design principles into their planning process, the hospital’s executives, supported by external designers, have turned the hospital into a showplace that has won a number of safety, quality, and design awards. Inspire of this being a non-profit organisation the intake of the patients rose to 47%.
Design thinking process starts with putting yourself in the end users shoe. Empathy is the most appreciated value that determines how far we are willing to step in order to bridge the gap in the user interface. Rotterdam Eye Hospitals entire management team along with the doctors decided to solve the issue with a similar approach. Since it is a community hospital, most of the patients feared the treatment that they would receive would do more harm than good as the resources and facilities were not meeting the standards. They approached outside in and inside out approach to evaluate the gaps. They learned about scheduling from the just-in-time practices of the upscale Dutch supermarket chain Albert Heijn and KLM, the Netherlands’ flagship airline. They also gained important insights about operational excellence from two eye hospital organizations founded by Rotterdam Eye Hospital: the World Association of Eye Hospitals and the European Association of Eye Hospitals. They scheduled for innovation ideas and concepts that were proposed in house in a very informal approach. This helped in improving the doctor-patient relationship and understood if any changes need to be incorporated before launching these programmes full-fledged. Another interesting approach that was initiated is in the treatment of their children patients. The children’s were treated in a friendly manner in order to make them more at ease. In house child patients were given specially designed T-shits with an animal print on it to make them comfortable. The rooms were painted with bright and colourful