This monitor screensaver from Cedars Sinai outlines how to “enhance hospital flow”

Compassion in UX: A hospital case study

by Sammie Spector

Entering the hospital flow as a first-time user

Arriving for a pre-op appointment just a day before surgery, our family unit quickly felt informed and familiar with the hospital. This was due to Cedar’s unwavering belief in the power of communication and empathy. I’d argue their “products” — signage, brochures, digital reminders, customer service — were thoughtfully designed for their users. We were handed print-outs with particulars on my mom’s 5:00 a.m. arrival for operation, along with a general guidebook on cardiovascular surgery: what to expect before and after.

  • What struck me most about the guide was that it was written for both the patient, as well as their family members.
  • The writers recognized that patients rarely walk into these health situations on their own, and physically cannot leave on their own afterward. Family members will have questions, concerns, and anxieties all of their own.
  • Chapters were organized by pre-and post-operative instructions and concerns. Sections were headlined with frequently asked questions.
  • The text was scannable and action-oriented. Most importantly, it was written at a grade-school reading level, so any caretaker could walk away understanding the answer to each question.
  • Any technical or medical phrase was followed by its definition in parentheses: “Postoperative (after your surgery) Instructions.”
  • It answered the uncomfortable questions openly, subjects that some may struggle to talk to their doctor about (hygiene, depression, sex).
These pamphlet pages document helpful surgery tips and what to expect when entering or leaving the hospital.

Crafting a strong feedback loop

After a sleepless night, we said quick goodbyes to my mom before she would endure a 5–7 hour surgery. Cedars thoughtfully considers patients’ mental health and allows a visitor to stay with the patient throughout the majority of preoperative prep and dressing, so that they feel less alone.

Navigating hospital flows

Nothing can prepare you for the emotions that come with waiting apprehensively for news of a loved one, then seeing them wrapped in wires, hooked up to monitors leading to unfathomable beeps and lines across the screen. I found my mom hosed with a ventilator, her hands restrained to the sides of the bed to stop her from pulling it out of her throat. A nurse had tenderly pulled back and tied up her hair so it was out of her face. The past two years marked by the pandemic have seen an overwhelming amount of people in this position. We spent the next week in the Cedars-Sinai Cardiac ICU.

This monitor screensaver states “Your words and behavior matter.” The full quote is in the paragraph below.
This monitor screensaver states “We no longer refer to the Pro Tower at the medical center. When giving directions, please refer only to North Tower and South Tower.”
This monitor screensaver provides an update on a new feature in the Cedars-Sinai app: you can now get turn-by-turn walking directions across the entire medical center.
These first screen notes a new, simplified antibiotic ordering system for hospital staff. The second screen notes which items to dispose of when a patient is being discharged.

Words and behavior matter

Over six days, we had become intimately familiar with the quickest routes to caffeination, thanks to excellent wayfinding and Starbucks icons. Walking out of the ICU one afternoon for a coffee, a sign caught my eye in the main lobby. It reminded visitors that Cedars was a space of healing, where lowered voices and awareness of others’ situations was not only appreciated, but requested. In their relentless accommodation for patients’ families, it struck me just how dedicated Cedars was to cultivating a calm space for healing.

This text from the Cedars-Sinai website notes: “We realize spending time with your loved one is important to the healing process. …Your emotional support is not only welcomed, it’s deeply encouraged.



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