Rethinking and redesigning clinical workspaces

Philips Healthcare

By Ronald Tabaksblat*
Tuesday, 25 July, 2017

Rethinking and redesigning clinical workspaces

Drivers such as cost pressure on healthcare systems, rising patient volumes and demands from patients engaged in their own healthcare, together with advances in technology, are transforming the way care is delivered, creating a shift in what is required in clinical spaces.

These shifts are particularly evident in the image-guided therapy space, with the number and complexity of minimally invasive procedures growing across the world.

While pressures are a key driver for change within hospitals, significant advances in technology — which enable clinicians to do more with less — are also strong drivers in workspace evolution. There is high demand to embrace evolving technologies from clinical performance, patient expectation and hospital competition perspectives. The way healthcare environments are being designed today is shifting to futureproof them for tomorrow.

Technology is influencing the way surgeons use their workspaces

Developing more intuitive systems that seamlessly integrate and enhance workflow efficiency is crucial, as complexity can be a significant barrier preventing physicians from using new technology. Easy-to-use systems have the potential to make image-guided therapy simpler and faster, while improving both the patient and physician experience.

Improvements in image-guided therapy technology allow for even less invasive procedures, fewer repeat procedures and improved workflow. New technologies better enable interventionalists, providing image-guided navigation tools at low radiation doses with improved image quality and reduced contrast requirements.

At Philips, we are excited to see how these improvements in image-guided therapy provide comprehensive procedural workflow and seamless integration with smarter devices, supporting the next generation of interventions. Think, for instance, of interventional oncology applications or transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedures that are imaging and navigation optimised.

Planning changes to existing infrastructure

Planning the physical space can prove challenging. Interventional rooms and operating theatres can quickly become crowded with clinicians and specialised equipment. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution.

When a hospital decides to make significant changes to the existing healthcare infrastructure, it is important for them to consider the types of procedures that are taking place in each space, such as the workflow of the physicians that are performing the procedures and the patient experience in a specific room. For example, the placement of equipment such as lights or equipment racks could potentially be influenced by whether the primary physician working in the lab is left- or right-handed.

The key to making the right decisions followed by a successful install is the collaboration and clear communication between the hospital, the clinicians and support staff, and the technology provider.

Introducing new technology

At Philips, we focus on designing solutions that are flexible in their application so that they can be tailored for both now and in the future as technologies and requirements evolve. We take a strategic approach according to a co-create methodology based on the latest healthcare design thinking to help hospitals create innovative and optimised patient care environments.

The transformation process can be enabled through experience flow mapping, where we see teams create mock-ups of workspaces, or 3D planning software, allowing them to reach often surprising conclusions about the design of operating theatres or interventional suites following the patient journey.

Dedicated planning and install teams ensure the usability and flow of a clinical space is fully considered for each and every hospital. In addition, close collaboration between the hospital and the technology provider helps to ensure products are tailored to support workflow in and around the lab.

One example of a new platform that is changing the way surgeons use their workspace is Philips Azurion, an image-guided therapy platform for interventional labs. This is the result of a multiyear development program where hundreds of developers, engineers and designers worked in close collaboration with leading clinicians in the field across the world.

The platform enables multiple work spots in one lab and features parallel working, which allows different tasks to be completed simultaneously, leading to faster exam turnover without compromising quality of care. This kind of new technology promotes cross-disciplinary collaboration and gives clinicians flexibility to view, control and manipulate applications, allowing them to switch seamlessly between procedures.

Who needs to be involved in the design process?

To achieve the best possible solution, design should take an immersive approach; multidisciplinary teams in the hospital working together to assure that clinical, operational and financial requirements are met. Active involvement should be sought from physicians, patients, healthcare management and other stakeholders to co-create and develop solutions that bring a total experience for the customer.

How can hospitals avoid costly mistakes?

When designing operating theatres, one needs to consider and optimise the way that staff will utilise the equipment. In the operating room (OR) environment, for instance, a lot of equipment is ceiling mounted, which can lead to collisions or other unwanted interactions.

Another example is the placement of video cameras. Video is becoming more and more common in surgical and interventional suites. If the position of the cameras is not properly planned, it may be possible that images get obscured by other equipment in the room. These mistakes can be easily avoided when taking the clinical workflow into consideration when designing an OR.

By enhancing the usability of equipment by staff, hospitals can enhance performance, reduce procedure time, see fewer repeat procedures, improve workflow and increase the standard of care delivered.


A myriad of trends is driving the evolution of clinical workspaces. Among others, Philips is seeing:

  • Tight budgets are pushing healthcare providers to seek efficiencies.
  • An ageing population is causing a sharp rise in chronic conditions, which increases demand and drives complexity of procedures.
  • Competition amongst hospitals is growing, as hospitals need to differentiate their services.
  • Healthcare facilities are consolidating through mergers and acquisitions. These networks seek to leverage efficiencies and are driving standardisation of care across their facilities.
  • Patient satisfaction metrics are becoming more and more important, and many care providers are strongly focused on improving the patient experience.


*Physicist Ronald Tabaksblat is Senior Vice President and Business Leader for IGT Systems at Philips. He leads a group of 1000+ employees in The Netherlands and India. He has also been responsible for leading Philips’ diagnostic X-ray and cardiology informatics businesses.

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