I’ve probably said this before – and will undoubtedly say it again: I am passionate about applied anthropology because it helps to lift up voices of people that are often ignored. Too often programs, facilities, items, are designed without user input. My job as an applied anthropologist is to ensure that the people who are affected by that program, living in that facility, or using that device, are part of the design. This is a great example of what happens when user input is incorporated. I particularly love that the opinions of both patients and staff were incorporated, so that the environment works for everyone involved.
When a medical center decided to build new patient rooms, “management decided to design a mock patient room….Medical staff members and patients were surveyed. Nurses and doctors spent months moving Post-it notes around a model room set up in the old hospital.” They went beyond that, though. “Equipment was installed, possible situations rehearsed. Then real patients were moved in from the surgical unit — hip and knee replacements, mostly — to compare old and new rooms.”
The results, not surprisingly, were positive. “After months of testing, patients in the model room rated food and nursing care higher than patients in the old rooms did, although the meals and care were the same.”
But here’s the kicker, and why every organization and facility should incorporate user input:
“the real eye-opener was this: Patients also asked for 30 percent less pain medication.” The benefits: “Reduced pain has a cascade effect, hastening recovery and rehabilitation, leading to shorter stays and diminishing not just costs but also the chances for accidents and infections.”
One of the things I love about this article is that they include no information about the details of how they arranged the room. I love this because it reflects the truth that changes that made sense in this environment, for this population, this facility, these staff members, are not the same things that might make sense for a different setting and different population. It’s not about the results, in other words, it’s about the process.