When university students go about creating items for their parents or grandparents use, it's good when they don't assume too much. The University of Cincinnati (UC) industrial design students working with UC's business and research and innovation departments, have researched the design of the dreaded hospital gown from the perspective of patients, caregivers, and business professionals, to come up with appropriate fabrics and fashionable, comfortable designs and some business strategies to market them.
In 2007, UC was selected as an "innovation incubator" by private sector leaders such as Procter & Gamble, General Mills, CitiGroup, AARP, and Hillenbrand Inductries. UC formed a consortium with the businesses, called the Living Well Consortium. and UC students, particularly those in design, architecture, planning, business, engineering, and medicine, came up with several projects to explore, with these objectives and benefits in mind:
- To provide greater insights and information regarding the 50+ market.
- To tap a new source of growth - the 50+ consumer.
- To respond to the 50+ consumer with new solutions for better lives since the unique needs of this consumer are currently underserved.
- To build the innovation capabilities of all involved.
- To stimulate economic development in Ohio and the region.
- To test a university-business model that may later be expanded.
I like the group that chose to redesign the hospital gowns.
Most of you know the problems with hospital gowns. They suck. With, if you're lucky, two sets of strings in the front, or in the back, depending on how you're told to wear them, you always have something showing that even your intimates seldom see. But when one is in the hospital, he or she becomes so de-humanized that complete strangers -- not just everyone from the doctors to the janitors, other patients, and their visitors -- everyone is given opportunity to see these "parts" indiscriminately, because you are "institutionalized." And that's exactly how you feel, no matter how wonderful the medical care is supposed to be.
UC students designed gowns for the bedridden patient, the recovering patient, and the fully ambulatory patient: the Progressive Recovery Collection. The gown below is a model for the bedridden patient.
The next gown was designed to be a "reward" for the recovering
patient. It looks very comfy, like something you would wear at home...
and that is the marketing idea. You get to purchase the Recovery
Collection and bring it home with you.
This neat outfit with cropped pants was designed for the fully ambulatory patients. Yes, I'd love to wear those -- but can we skip the hospital and just send them to my home?
And the UC students have even designed accessories for the hospital wear: a scarf with pockets, arm warmers, leg warmers, and a shawl wrap!
The Progressive Recovery Collection will be modelled for the public for the first time in June, 2009. The team deserves a lot of credit and support for its venture. I'd prefer to see these gowns on the market than in the hospital, but I'm sure they'll be appreciated by patients in that great institution.
Sources: UC Design Innovation for the 21st Century: New Hope for the Hated Hospital Gown; Top Firms Select UC as 'Innovation Incubator'
Keeping you posted...