June 16, 2008

Human-Centric Designs

By Chandra Devi

DESIGN is in the veins of Royal Philips Electronics. Within the company, the emphasis is on human-centric designs, which means designing concepts and products around consumers' needs, explains senior director, Philips Design Asia Sean Hughes.

To realise human-focused designs, the company takes the effort to understand people in the context of everyday life and anticipate this when creating and developing solutions, he says. In the product design process, the company sees it essential to have a deep understanding of the trends and lifestyles from both global and regional perspectives.

Far more than creating good-looking products, Hughes says the company tries to strike a balance so people are empowered and not overpowered by technological innovation.

Philips' successful innovations and future propositions are showcased annually at its Simplicity Event. Design concepts are demonstrated in real-life scenarios.

Hughes says the event aims to stimulate creative thinking in design and to get feedback from people when developing solutions.

Healthcare innovations

Focusing on the healthcare sector, Hughes says Philips has contributed much towards improving the outcome for patients and professionals alike.

Through multi-layered people research and gathering insights from patients and professionals, the company has been able to integrate design and enable technology to improve the patient experience, quality of care and operational effectiveness.

"Design is seen from the patient's to the healthcare provider's perspective. We work with hospitals to create facilities that are designed around the needs of both doctors and patients. The aim is to bring better healthcare at a lower cost and to personalise experience and offer personal well-being," Hughes says.

He points out several breakthrough technologies in healthcare pioneered by the company through way of people research.

The Philips Ambient Experience Radiology Suite is one such solution that has helped not only to create a more patient-friendly environment for people undergoing medical scans, but also reduce the time needed to take medical images.

The Ambient Experience solutions focus on the values and needs of both patients and medical staff, addressing the total experience flow. They integrate architecture and technology (lighting, sound, vision and radio frequency identification) to create spaces that the patient can personalise, wrapping the patient in a relaxing ambience. This puts the patient at ease, which helps to speed up procedures.

The Advocate Lutheran General Children's Hospital, Chicago, Illinois, in the United States was the first to have the Philips Ambient Experience Radiology Suite. The idea was to make it less intimidating for children to be scanned at a radiology ward.

The new imaging centre with a comfortable patient environment has successfully helped reduce sedation rates for children between three and seven years old by 30 to 40 per cent, Hughes says.

"The radiation dosage has been reduced two- to four-fold based on the protocol now established with new technology. The design and layout of the Ambient Experience has also reduced the processes leading to CT (computed tomography) scan and improved patient, family and staff satisfaction. There is overall improved efficiency and throughput of treatment planning by 15 and 20 per cent."

Besides successful healthcare solutions marketed by the company, Hughes also highlights several of the company's future propositions. Among them are the Ambient Healing Space, Reading Room 20/20 and Celebrating Pregnancy, which were showcased at the Simplicity Event in London last year.

The Ambient Healing Space concept looks at ways to personalise hospital stay, improve user experience and make the experience more comfortable. It provides a space where medical information flows seamlessly from the doctor to the patient. It combines several components, including a body- sensing blanket and a room divider that switches from personal pinboard to interactive knowledge wall.

Reading Room 20/20 is the working space where radiologists analyse the diagnostic images of patients. This future concept of the reading room combines Philips' "ambient" concepts in lighting, IT, user interface and design to create a collaborative workspace to promote knowledge and data flow.

For pre-natal care and fetal ultrasound scans, Philips hopes to make them as comfortable as they are exciting with its Celebrating Pregnancy concept, which explores ways to make pregnancy more informative, moving and enjoyable, from a clinical perspective warmer and more serviceoriented.

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