Designing a Branded Healthcare Experience

Today’s healthcare organizations are creating intuitive patient-centric experiences in compelling branded environments

On Sunday, November 12, 2017, Adrenaline and Northwestern Medicine presented at the Healthcare Design Expo national conference in Phoenix, Arizona. Speakers included Andrea Harnden and Lynn Murphy from Northwestern Medicine and Sean Keathley, President of Adrenaline. The Brand the Beginning educational session addressed innovative ways that healthcare organizations are impacting patient awareness, consideration, service experience and advocacy through the brand presence and strategic design. 

At the center of this presentation was Northwestern Medicine’s transformation of its facilities to increase brand awareness and consistency of the brand, improve patient experience and reduce perceived wait time – all in a state-of-the-art, human-centered environment. The evolution of the healthcare space today is at a tipping point. The industry needs fresh thinking, and Northwestern’s approach is a vital best-practice case study for what healthcare organizations can do to create a holistic patient journey in an inspired branded space.

Carrie Mandelin with The Boldt Company says, “Adrenaline and Northwestern Medicine provided great, forward-thinking on piloting a different approach to increasing brand awareness and improving the patient experience.  This team has created a more collaborative, interdepartmental effort between design/construction and brand/marketing, removing the silos and already proving outstanding outcomes!”

From arrival to check-in, the patient is front-and-center in this fresh approach. At arrival, the exterior must be warm and welcoming and easy to find and navigate. These facilities use branded colors and themes, feature illumination and master signage and are designed for dynamic activity. When the patient steps into the space, there must be an intuitive sense of destination, simple navigation and an inviting interior. There must also be service options that provide personalization and customization such as self-service check-ins that maximize patient efficiency and reduce wait times.
Within the healthcare environment, spaces must be designed for flexibility and function. In healthcare, those functions are advisement, expertise, privacy, consultation and complexity. The space design must follow the patient journey from entrance to check-in to exam while optimizing back-of-the-house functions to keep the whole system running. Patients don’t want to see how the whole operation is run and jump through hoops to get their – sometimes pressing – healthcare needs to be met. They want efficiency, convenience and seamless experiences like they get in other areas of their lives.

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On a macro level today, America’s healthcare infrastructure is aging out and is challenged in an increasingly competitive marketplace of choice. In fact, most healthcare systems were originally designed with the hospital or healthcare facility’s needs in mind first, providing a place to deliver care – where the form and function were primarily based on doctor, nursing, staff, and institutional needs. With choice abounding in an omni-channel world, consumers have now flipped the script. They’re demanding the same level of customization, convenience and care available in every other area of their lives and healthcare institutions like Northwestern Medicine are rising to this challenge. 

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