We are passionate about customer experiences – designing them, embedding them but often, just looking out
for them. After all – one of our values is relentless curiosity. We are always on the look out for great
experiences for all sorts of customers – be they passengers, shoppers or even patients.
For this autumn edition 2013 of TMI-Spy Health we are introducing 10 key trends that caught our eye. They
come from Europe, the US and Asia. We hope they will provide you with some good food for thought. If you
would like to know more or would like us to come and present these in person, do drop us a note or give us a
call and we would be delighted to chat.
All around the world, healthcare is experiencing more change right now than it has ever known. Whilst
researching this paper, 5 ‘C’ words keep cropping up in this context. ‘Crowdsourcing’ – never more has the
wisdom of crowds been sought – whether amongst experts or more recently, involving patients. The role of
‘Community’ is also significantly on the increase – whether community as we have known traditionally – or
broader, virtual communities. ‘Choice’ and ‘Control’ are for many healthcare organisations core drivers for
change – patients are demanding both and are increasingly able to vote with their feet. This is all very well and
good but the final ‘C’ is the one that is dominating many top-team conversations in the industry – how to take
‘Cost’ out whilst enhancing the patient experience. We hope that the ideas coming through over the next
pages may provide some pointers.
1. Collective Wisdom
Co-production or co-creation is becoming increasingly integrated into healthcare. On many levels it makes
sense. Traditional systems of healthcare are creaking under increased demand, capacity needs to come from
somewhere else. More innovative solutions need to be sought and often these solutions are enhanced by
involving those who are not the provider of the service. It also helps leaders tune into their users more – in
real time – and critically it helps to build a sense of community and shared responsibility. Co-production
sessions are cropping up in surgeries and hospitals – with clinicians, administrators, patients, users, volunteers
etc. The following examples take the idea of collective wisdom just that one step further – from conversations
with people in a room to a much broader network with virtually infinite possibilities.
This new photo-sharing app for healthcare professionals
enables them to post images to the medical community,
comment and share diagnosis. Healthcare professionals can
add arrows, comments and tags to their pictures, and
receive feedback from others in their field in real time. To
protect the patient’s privacy the app features automatic
face blocking, and the ability to remove identifying patient
details with the swipe of a finger.
US-based CrowdMed platform (currently in beta) aims to facilitate the diagnosis of rare disease conditions via
the collective knowledge of their users. Anyone can anonymously submit a case – listing symptoms, family and
medical history – and other users collaborate to provide a diagnosis. An algorithm aggregates the answers and
CrowdMed then suggests a possible diagnosis based on the information. Individuals submitting the correct
diagnosis earn points, ranking them on a virtual leader board and giving them the chance to win cash prizes.
Users are required to pay an introductory fee of US$199. CrowdMed calls their community “Medical
Detectives” and they can include medical students, retired physicians, nurses, physician assistants, scientists
etc. Of course CrowdMed offers no reassurance that the diagnosis to a specific case is correct and stresses
that these solutions must be used as a discussion point with a patient’s own physician not as a treatment in
isolation of a doctor. CrowdMed’s founders are targeting patients with complicated symptoms and conditions
because they believe these patients often see many doctors who work in silos with potentially entrenched
The medical community itself is understandably divided on this – concerned that it leads to rampant
misdiagnoses and potentially false hopes. Supporters claim that complex problems need ‘more heads’. It is too
early to tell.
Of course, new technology provides even more crowdsourcing opportunities.
One of the most talked-about so far is Google Glass. So far just in prototype
stage – most famously perhaps with Dr. Rafael Grossman (see left) who live-
streamed his endoscopic insertion of a feeding tube into a patient. Grossman's
trial run demonstrated the potential for physicians to view and possibly even
consult on surgical operations conducted in other geographical regions.
Possibly the most intriguing health-care opportunities lie in how Google Glass
could connect with other technology. An obvious possibility is IBM's Watson.
New York's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center plans to use Watson as
something of a physician's assistant. The goal is for Watson's natural language
processing, hypothesis generation and evaluation, and evidence-based learning
capabilities to help doctors diagnose and treat patients. Connecting Watson to
Google Glass could be a winning combination.
There are astonishingly over 10,000 fitness and healthcare apps available today on ITunes. Whilst this can be
very empowering for individuals, it could leave the most vulnerable out in the cold. Most importantly, these
are not currently subjected to any regulatory controls. Security issues are clearly also a concern. And doctors
report on the growing influence of ‘Cyberchondria’ which perversely has increased rather than decreased the
number of visits to doctors.
2. D-I-Y Health
Launched in the Netherlands, Earlydoc is an online app enabling individuals to check symptoms and work out
if they need to see a doctor or not. By entering details of their symptoms, users can view simple information
on whether these are serious or not, and whether they need to see a doctor immediately. The site also
generates a list of other symptoms to look out for, and tips on what to do to get better. All of Earlydoc’s
information is checked by doctors, and the service is free to use. It is currently in beta phase and not based on
a real-time system. The answers are based on a combination of medical data sources such as medical
guidelines, medical databases and input from medical professionals. Based on all that information an
algorithm is created that determines which questions one needs to answer, what your answers mean and
what results you get. And the whole system and algorithms are then double-checked by doctors to make sure
that everything is correct before they are being used by the public. In the future, you should be able to link
with your doctor through this app, or send your doctor your initial diagnoses which he can then pick up or
schedule an appointment.
On a similar vein, Medivizor is a search tool that helps patients find medical information that is personalised to
them. Users of the tool first sign up and enter details about themselves and their condition. The service then
delivers relevant news and updates that may help them learn more about their condition and what it means
for them. It is not meant to cut out professional opinion, but rather aims to empower patients to do their own
research which they can then share with their doctors.
Currently still a prototype, Scanadu Scout is a palm-sized device that is packed with sensors to help individuals
keep track of their own health and detect health conditions early. Users can get detailed information about
their heart beat and ECG, core body temperature, blood oxygen and blood pressure, breathing and emotional
state by placing the Scanadu Scout to their forehead for ten seconds. Results are then instantly delivered via
Bluetooth to their smartphones. (And for those Trekkies out there, yes – it was inspired by the ‘tricorder’ on
A new app called uChek is making it possible
for anyone to check their urine for signs of
25 different diseases. Created by Mumbai-
based Biosense, the app aims to replace the
large and expensive machines that are
currently used to scan urine samples. The
app comes bundled with chemical strips
that change colour when dipped into a urine
sample. After a picture of the strip is taken
with a smartphone, the app quickly analyses
the results based on the colour of the strip,
producing accurate and easy-to-understand
There are also a multitude of devices for coronary heart conditions – one of the biggest killers in the UK and
US. These include Telemedicine’s Smartheart which is a lightweight personal electrocardiogram (or ECG) that
allows you to monitor your heart in real-time. The accompanying free app, which is available on smartphones
connects to the ECG wirelessly. The app will display your results and give you the opportunity to email them
directly to your physician. For those who find themselves in harrowing circumstances, the app will
immediately identify an irregular or abnormal heart condition and send an alert to the user.
IneedMD’s EKG glove is known as The Physician's Hand® and can quickly identify a cardiac event, expedite
transfer to a medical facility, and avert unscheduled and unnecessary ER visits.
And technology isn’t just helping with diagnosis but with treatment as well. MedSnap ID aims to help patients
accurately identify pills to ensure they take the right ones. Users first place the medication they want to
identify onto a precision imaging surface that comes with a subscription to the MedSnap ID service. Multiple
types of pills can be placed on the surface before the user takes a photograph with their smartphone. The app
instantly recognizes the pills by matching them with images in its database, bringing up data such as name,
use, dosage recommendations and other important information. Patients with multiple prescriptions can
ensure they know which pill they’re meant to be taking, and doctors can use it to quickly identify unlabelled
pills in their inventory. The app has also been designed to work without an internet connection, making it
useful for health professionals operating in remote areas or in the field.
Providing real time accessibility to services for enhanced choice and access is something that we consumers
are used to now – particularly with so-called aggregator sites that provide information regarding financial
services options, or sites that enable you to reserve a table in some of the world’s leading restaurants. So it is
no surprise that these services are starting to enter into the world of healthcare.
3. Choice and Access
Sometimes just trying to know who to go to is a maze. The BetterDoctor platform in the US offers simple to
use web and mobile apps that let you find the right doctor in minutes. You can select what kind of doctor you
are looking for, pick your insurance plan and see a list of verified “Better Doctors” near you.
One of the most high-profile apps to date is ZocDoc. Although it was developed 6 years ago, ZocDoc has just
become the first healthcare app to make it into the top 100 apps. ZocDoc is a US web-based service to help
consumers find and schedule doctors’ appointments online – in real time.
In India, the medeel.com healthcare platform matches those in need of surgery with customised care
packages based on their medical records. The platform is aimed at those who have been advised to undergo
medical procedures by their doctors or GPs, but want to ensure they get the cheapest deal or the best
surgeons. Medeel first invites patients to detail their treatment needs and upload their medical records using
its secure submission process. Medeel then shares this information with local hospitals that offer the required
surgery. After around two or three days, customers receive customised healthcare plans from those hospitals,
enabling them to choose the one which is the most suitable and offers the best care for their situation.
Having more choice means that doctors are now having to consider new ways of access. Technology such as
Skype is leading to changes in the doctor and patient interchange. Whilst teleconferencing itself has been
around for decades, the accessibility of Skype means that this is a viable alternative for psychiatry and
psychology. Fans claim it is allowing patients who previously would not have had access to a range of talented
mental health professionals to choose from a large pool of them and say that Skype creates more competition
because distance is no longer a blocker.
They also say that when people speak to one another on Skype, they tend not to look away. This apparently
can create a surprisingly intense connection while addressing emotionally-charged topics. And Skype can be
available during the exact times when a person is suffering anxiety or feeling most depressed or struggling
with an emotional issue or experiencing a moment of epiphany. If the doctor is available, then the session can
begin – in seconds.
Some argue just the opposite saying that Skype creates more barriers and relies too much on what you can
see on the screen rather than the bigger picture. Most psychologists caution against using this for anyone with
severe mental illness. Interestingly several studies have concluded that patient satisfaction with face-to-face
interaction and online therapy (often preceded by in-person contact) was statistically similar. It appears
though that satisfaction with online therapy is enhanced if it is preceded with face to face contact and is used
for on-going treatment.
Quite rightly, more and more healthcare providers from the full spectrum of health are looking for ways to
make often times intimidating and potentially frightening situations for young children as calm, soothing and
even playful as possible. These ideas range from the sublimely simple to the divinely delightful.
4. Looking After Little Ones
A dentist in Indonesia – Dhanni Gustiana – hopes to make those dreaded trips to the dentist slightly more
bearable by modifying a conventional dentist’s drill to play music via an MP3 player instead of the dreaded
buzzing sound usually associated with a dentist’s surgery. To encourage the child to open their mouth wide
open, the sound becomes amplified, the wider the child opens its mouth. The musical drill has proved popular
with younger patients, who can even request their own music to make their day at the dentist a bit more
One of our favourite spots are the ‘super hero’ window cleaners at children’s hospitals. In Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania, some window cleaners have dressed up as superheroes to surprise and cheer up young patients
whilst doing the window cleaning. Small input, big impact.
And staying with the superhero theme, in Brazil, a partnership between Warner Bros, ad agency JWT and A. C.
Camargo Cancer Center has resulted in the rebranding of cancer treatments and hospital wards to make them
more inspiring and child-friendly. Covers for intravenous bags carrying chemotherapy drugs were designed to
resemble the costumes worn by super heroes and are referred to as superhero superformula. Part of the
children’s ward was also revamped to look like the Hall of Justice and a comic book series was developed to let
kids read about their favourite superheroes as they go through their treatment and recovery.
The Alberta Children’s Hospital in Canada has introduced MEDi, a robot that distracts kids from uncomfortable
medical examinations and procedures, and even aids their recovery.
The robot is a humanoid that interacts with children in a variety of ways, designed to take their mind off
painful flu shots or check ups. The robot greets children, asks them for a high five, asks them questions about
their favourite movies and games and plays music they request. It also gets them engaged in a simple activity
such as arranging toys on a table in front of them.
During tests carried out at the hospital by researchers at the University of Calgary, which included a group of
children aged four to nine who had previously reacted badly to needles, MEDi asked them to clear some dust
from a toy duck on the table by blowing on it. The kids were distracted by the activity, and the gesture is
known to relax muscles, making injections less painful. The upshot was that those children reacted less
violently to the procedure, experienced less pain and even recovered more quickly. At the same time, parents
also felt more relaxed.
Great Ormond Street Children Hospital in London recently commissioned an installation called the ‘Lullaby
Factory’. The project was put forward following a multi-phased redevelopment of Great Ormond Street
Hospital which resulted in several large windows directly facing a nearby pipe work-ridden brickwork facade.
Rather than attempting to hide this pipe work or tidy it up somehow, Studio Weave instead made a feature of
it, incorporating various fixtures and fittings from the aging building in order to create a compelling vision of a
Lullaby Factory. The ‘factory’ produces gentle lullabies which can be accessed either through special “listening
pipes” or by tuning into an internal radio station.
Staying along similar lines to the previous trend is the use of gamification – often but not exclusively aimed at
the younger audience. Gamification techniques have shown huge success in motivating patients, making the
condition or the treatment more engaging and if possible also a little more fun whilst at the same time
creating detailed logs of their daily statistics in order to provide a better view of what’s going on over time and
Scotland’s Royal Hospital for Sick Children has developed a ‘Hospital Passport’ to make young patients feel
more at ease and involved in the care they receive. Rather than being transferred to different parts of the
hospital without an explanation, the gamified approach encourages children to get their passport stamped
and collect stickers when moving around the building, or ‘travelling’ to a different department. By filling up
the passport the kids are getting closer to completing their treatment. Parents are given a separate Hospital
Passport Coping Kit, which includes information on how they can help to discuss with their children the
reasons they’re having the treatment, further reducing any anxiety and it also acts as an aid for adults to keep
track of their child’s hospital history. It also provides for the staff by giving them hints and tips in how to
support the children. A win win win for all parties involved.
5. Play Healthy, Stay Healthy
The app mySugr is a charming diabetes manager in the form of a mobile game to make the handling of the
condition easier. Each user gets a virtual monster that represents their diabetes and each time the patient
enters data – whether it’s blood glucose numbers, time of injection, the meals they have eaten or activities
they’ve done – the monster reacts positively or negatively based on their on-going performance and helps you
stay motivated. You win points for every entry made which help tame your diabetes monster. Challenges are
available to help you set and attain personal goals. The app has a similar purpose to a diabetes logbook. By
keeping the monster happy, users increase the amount of data they have on their condition and can use the
app to create detailed graphs, educating them about how their body behaves in certain situations.
MIRA Rehab (Medical Interactive Rehabilitation Assistant) gaming software aims to make physical therapy fun
and convenient for patients by gamifying home-exercises which patients are required to do as part of their
treatment plan. These are medically validated, customizable to fit patient needs and cover a large area of
pathologies. In order to record the patient's movements, the games make use of Microsoft Kinect, an external
camera allowing accurate tracking of the patient's body.
The results are then converted into statistics to allow the physiotherapist to monitor the patient’s progress.
The patient can use MIRA at hospital under supervision, and then continue treatment at home with prescribed
exercises. MIRA can also be used during diagnosis, when the physio can create personal profiles – which can
be filtered by name or relevant fields. Furthermore, the physiotherapist can create a schedule with video-
game exercises. Each game from the schedule has settings which can be set according to the patient's
Waiting time is clearly a huge patient frustration. There are many plans in place to improve this across a range
of touchpoints. As a rule, research shows that after 5 minutes, a customer’s perceived wait time is 2x the
actual wait time. On top of that is the realisation that patients do not all experience time in the same way –
one person’s 10 minutes feels like another person’s half hour; occupied time always goes faster than
unoccupied time. So trends in these areas are about cutting out some of the processes at time-consuming
touchpoints to make things go quickly as well as to change the perception of time.
6. Stop the Wait
The Radio Fast Radiology System is an ingenious technological solution that has the potential to significantly
cut waiting times in ER. Designer Francois Rybarczyk has calculated that patients wait the longest between
their initial examination and their diagnostic imaging. This gap could be reduced to five minutes with the
assistance of this handheld x-ray machine. The mobile medical unit consists of the display screen tablet and a
cord-connected cassette. Easily accessed injuries can be scanned between the two components to produce an
instant image at one's seat. Once the scan is taken the system can then be set into a docking station that can
print a copy of the screening and top up the device's charge for immediate diagnosis.
Another portable handheld device, ELSA (Enabling Language Service Anywhere) connects users with live
interpreters who are highly skilled linguists, many of whom have specialized training, who can quickly
translate, as well as record, 180 different languages and dialects into English. The device uses existing wireless
networks to connect users with translators instantly. The immediacy in communication is a key benefit
particularly in situations involving emergency responders where time is often a crucial factor. Traditionally
these departments have relied on bilingual personnel or other translation services, neither of which are
always immediately accessible.
Healthcare practices can download PatientReach onto an iPad, transforming it into an automated system for
gathering patient information. The iPads are distributed to incoming patients, who then begin a simplified
check-in process. PatientReach boosts practice efficiency by allowing the patient to update insurance
information, read and sign legal forms, submit patient reviews and much more right from the doctor’s waiting
room. The digital intake provides legible documentation, ensuring accuracy and data validity. The paperless
PatientReach method eliminates the need for printing, scanning and shredding documents previously
distributed on a clipboard. PatientReach also lets patients sign up for the online patient portal, where they can
pay bills, schedule appointments, send or receive secure messages, and change their correspondence
preferences at any time.
Additionally, patients can select from a customized group of healthcare articles that are then emailed to the
patient to read at their convenience. The articles engage patients with point-of-care education and encourage
them to take a more active role in their healthcare.
Virtual Triage Kiosks in hospitals help patients admit themselves into hospital and improve the relationship
between patients and doctors by optimising the hospital consultation access. The ‘Smart Consulting Service’
invented by Arthur Kenzo replaces the need for high numbers of triage nurses or staff. This machine takes care
of administration and, to an extent, diagnoses. A patient can approach the cutting-edge clinical stand, scan
their health card, place their hands down on the sensored surface and be guided through the process of
admission. A series of questions can be answered easily by the Smart Consulting Service user through an
intuitive touchscreen interface. Most communication is carried out by the video image of a medical
professional. The sophisticated machine can assess your vital signs and symptoms on its own as well and
deliver all of your information to the doctor who will see you.
Patients at the upcoming Ng Teng Fong General Hospital and Jurong Community Hospital can look forward to
a hassle-free experience with the new One Queue, One Bill system. The new specialist outpatient experience
will see an integrated system for better coordination of appointments as well as through a new role called the
Patient Service Coordinator (PSC). A visit to the hospital which involves multi-disciplines or varied tests will be
streamlined on the same day, if possible. This will help to cut down travel time and money.
Sometimes having health issues can be a lonely existence. Here are some rather wonderful examples of how
different groups of people are being connected together.
7. Connecting People
The Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles has introduced a new project called BabyTime, which connects
mothers with babies in intensive care and enables them to check on them and interact with them. It is an
iPad-based program whereby a device is immediately delivered to moms whose newborn has been admitted
to intensive care. An iPad is set up next to the baby and parents can see their child and interact with doctors
present, asking questions and getting updates. The initiative could help reduce the stress and fear felt by both
parents and babies when they’re separated at birth, providing a more comfortable environment for new
French start-up Hôpital Affinité is a lovely new concept connecting patients with long hospital stays with
fellow patients that share similar interests and improving their stay when they are feeling lonely. The company
offers a platform that enables patients to fill out their interests, alongside their time of stay. The service then
offers recommendations of current patients who enjoy the same things. Users can chat over the system – on
their laptop or smartphone – before viewing a map of the building to find out where their friend’s bed is. Since
patients often rely on visits from relatives and friends for company, Hôpital Affinité aims to make patient stays
more enjoyable by connecting them with like-minded guests. At the same time, hospitals can also
communicate important announcements to their patients through the service.
Sometimes patients don't necessarily need to see their doctor or therapist but do need that on-going support
and connection– a bit of encouragement to ensure they maintain momentum with their treatment. That's the
idea put forth by a US start-up that calls itself DropKicker. It offers a cloud-based text-messaging service that
encourages physical therapy patients to keep up their therapist-prescribed exercises. Physical therapists can
use the service to send pre-written reminders and encouragement to their patients about doing their home
exercises, then keep a log of how regularly the patient is completing his or her exercises. Patients will also
have the option to recruit a team -- friends and family members, for example -- who can be included in the
messages as a form of positive peer pressure to encourage progress. For now, DropKicker remains in testing
mode but the company plan to make its product available to physical therapists in the US later this year.
To improve empathetic care, some medical schools are offering buddy programmes that link medical students
with Alzheimer's patients, and results show it is benefiting the students just as much as the patients.
Northwestern University Alzheimer's Disease Center developed its Buddy Program more than a decade ago to
empower Alzheimer's patients.
Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple recently said that “I think the wrist is interesting”. Whilst industry observers said
this was a subtle dig at his competition over at Google Glass – there is no question that whether it is the wrist,
the eyes or indeed the whole body – the implications of wearable technology over the next few years is huge.
8. Wearable Technology
OMsignal is a company that has created a shirt that continuously tracks your biometrics to keep track of
wearers’ mental and physical wellbeing. Sensors are embedded in the fabric and can monitor your heart rate,
breathing, physical activity and emotional state. The linked OMsignal app can then display your data in real-
time on your mobile phone which can also be shared socially.
OMsignal hopes that, with further development, the shirt will help users track a wide range of metrics, from
eating habits to the health of babies in pregnant women.
New York start-up, Pixie Scientific has developed clever wearable technology: a nappy that can detect possible
urinary tract infections, kidney dysfunction, type 1 diabetes and dehydration and transmit the information to a
smartphone. The smart nappy has a small patch on the front, containing chemical agents that have different
reactions depending on which proteins are present in the child’s urine. If the levels are abnormal, the colour
on the patches will change. At the end of each use, one simply needs to take a picture of the QR code-like
patch with a smartphone. The accompanying app then analyses the patches, provides a result and can send
those directly to a doctor.
A range of research has documented the importance of the environment on a patient’s and staff member’s
well-being. Hospitals, surgeries and other environments have started to really up their game in this area. Some
– such as San Francisco General – have even created positions such as Director of First Impressions to focus
solely on this area.
9. A Healthy Environment
US ambulance service Life EMS are working together with interior design firm SKP Design and ambulance
manufacturer American Emergency Vehicles, of Jefferson, N.C., to develop a next-generation ambulance
concept that will improve the patients' experience. The ambulance is designed to be more patient-friendly and
comfortable for passengers with an interior that has soft lighting, uses colours inspired by nature (blue,
burgundy and lavender) and artwork to help create a more relaxing atmosphere during a usually stressful
situation. Studies show that art, particularly that depicting nature, has a positive influence on patient
outcomes. It gives them something to focus on to help them relax. Furthermore the design elements of the
new concept include surfaces with rounded and padded corners, forward-facing seats for medical personnel
(instead of sideways), a five-point restraining system (instead of three) and equipment placed within an arm’s
reach amongst other things.
An NHS sexual health clinic in London has taken the interior design concept with a good sense of humour.
Entire ceilings are covered in artwork taking sexual puns and imagery as their theme and designed to be
viewed from the examination couch. The waiting room has two suspended mobiles comprised of forms
resembling (ahem) sexual organs which gently rotate(!). The entrance is open, welcoming and informal
featuring a communal table where visitors can read the papers and drink complementary coffee. All has been
designed to help break down taboos around the nature of the clinic and put users at ease.
In order to manage little patients’ fear whilst on their way to the operating theatre, Great Ormond Street
Hospital for Children in London has installed an LED-illuminated wall to soothe and engage kids. LED panels are
embedded in the fifty metre long corridor wall at various heights. The wall comes to life when sensors in the
ceiling detect movement below, causing them to engage and interact playfully with patients. A whole digital
forest comes to life with interactive animated light patterns revealing a whole range of animals such as birds,
frogs, bears, deer, horses etc.
Another good example is the Birmingham Young Persons Unit which has been designed in a modern and
colourful way and resembles a boutique hotel rather than a teenage cancer patients ward.
Cleveland Clinic in Ohio has taken art and health very seriously. For
example, in a hallway on the outskirts of the children’s hospital at
Cleveland Clinic’s main campus, there’s a series of black-and-white
photographs of cats and dogs hanging in a row. When children
arrive for a several-night stay, they can choose a favourite one,
and a staff member will print a copy of that image to hang in their
room, where it remains as a “pet” throughout the rest of their
The Clinic’s art programme now comprises more than 4,500 pieces
of art on display across all of the outpatient facilities and hospitals
that are part of the Clinic’s system, some of them commissioned
for specific sites. Every waiting room and exam room has some
kind of poster or painting. Patients and visitors can also take an
audio-guided walking tour through the hospital’s art collection. It’s
designed to be a way to encourage patients to get out of their
rooms, and for families to avoid sitting in waiting rooms for hours
Dementia is one of the biggest public health challenges of the 21st century. These ideas really do exemplify
how a little bit of thought and a lot of heart goes a long way in making a tangible difference to the care some
of our more vulnerable members of society receive.
10. Forget Me Not
Ipswich Hospital in the UK has put a lot of effort into some very simple things that have had a huge impact.
The Trust added to its already existing visual alerts system through the updating of the forget-me-not symbol
and the introduction of the blue wristband. The forget-me-not is now used above the bed and on the Patient
Status at a Glance boards. The wristbands are particularly useful if a patient goes to another department
whilst they are in, for example, x-ray. As the patient keeps the wristband they can facilitate early identification
if they return to the hospital, for example, through the emergency department.
The Trust also worked to create an exemplar dementia friendly ward environment using art, colour and
lighting, designed in partnership with staff, patients, carers and local Alzheimer’s Society representatives.
Some enhancements include giving the bays an individual makeover using colours chosen for their
relationship to flowers from a Suffolk country garden. Each bay has been named after a particular flower and
has an accompanying picture for enhanced patient recognition. So we have Poppy and Bluebell bays alongside
Snowdrop and Daffodil. Lines from Poppy and Daffodil bays lead the way to and from their respective toilets -
ensuring patients find their way around more easily and can maintain independence. Each bay has also been
provided with drop-down desk space for the writing up of notes - enabling nursing staff and allied health
professionals to interact with patients as they complete the necessary paperwork rather than having to cluster
around the station. Pictograms ensure the toilets and bathrooms are clear for all to understand.
Memory suitcases have also been developed in partnership with museums containing items that remind
patients of good memories. The suitcase contains playing cards, old household items, photographs of the
town and the area, picture books, etc.
JWT Singapore teamed up with global fragrance company Givaudan to create 'Smell a Memory,’ kits that are
designed to bring out emotional memories in Alzheimer’s and dementia patients through different scents.
Each Smell a Memory kit is personalised for individual patients based on their age, ethnicity, family history,
and personal stories. Givaudan worked closely with rehabilitation experts and therapists to customize unique
scents such as ‘Mom’s Cooking,’ ’Freshly Cut Grass,’ ‘Prayer,’ and ‘School Days.’ The scent kits are meant to
evoke memories in patients and help families engage their loved ones who are suffering from dementia or
There are guide dogs, sniffer dogs, even search and rescue dogs but let us now introduce you to ‘dementia
dogs’. A pilot scheme in Scotland has given dogs special training to assist dementia patients. One of these first
dogs in the UK is golden Labrador Kaspa and his skills include fetching medicines when a reminder alarm goes
off, waking up his owners at the right time and carrying items between them. As well as helping out around
the house with his practical training, the dog helps to relieve a great deal of stress and encourages its owners
to get out and about more. Carers find they spend less time giving reassurance to their partner because the
dog provides a ”calming“ effect.
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