PhilaU Industrial Design and Jefferson Students Develop Innovative Concepts to Improve Healthcare

With two Jefferson students, PhilaU industrial design student Jasmine Mealy developed noise-canceling headphones for patients to filter out hospital sounds.

With two Jefferson students, PhilaU industrial design student Jasmine Mealy developed noise-canceling headphones for patients to filter out hospital sounds.

This past semester, Philadelphia University industrial design, Thomas Jefferson University occupational therapy and JeffDESIGN Sidney Kimmel Medical College students took part in the novel Medicine + Industrial Design course—the first course enrolling both PhilaU and Jefferson students. Eleven teams were deployed throughout Jefferson Health to identify ways to improve care using design-thinking principles and next-generation technology.

PhilaU industrial design student Kelly Sullivan and her team aimed to create a new set of standards that would reduce anxiety in patients undergoing “awake” surgery, procedures that allow patients to opt for localized and/or regional anesthesia instead of general anesthesia. Their system incorporated modifications to the operating room environment; better pre-op communication with patients and their families; and new training for surgeons to reduce anxiety in patients undergoing awake surgery and encourage more people to opt for it.

“From this course, I learned about the design research process, managed a project schedule and collaborated with students from other areas of expertise,” Sullivan said. “I also got immersed in the hospital environment, which gave me first-hand insights on design opportunities present in the healthcare field.”

Jeanée Vilja, who just received her M.S. in industrial design, worked with occupational therapy and medical students on the pXp–Patient Transport, a solution that will allow patient transporters in hospitals to review their assignments in real time and locate the nearest equipment to their location. This video they created highlights the struggles transporters face and how this product can improve workflow.

“I have a passion for medical design because the payoff is so rewarding,” she said. “I love the fact that I have the ability to design a product/experience that can make an impact on someone’s life. There’s a sense of purpose when you design for someone’s needs.”

Eleven teams identified ways to improve care using design-thinking principles and next-generation technology.

Eleven teams identified ways to improve care using design-thinking principles and next-gen technology.

Other course projects included noise-canceling headphones for patients to filter out hospital sounds and a treatment chair and companion iPad app that gives cancer patients more control of their environment while receiving treatment.

The overall quality of the concepts impressed Tod Corlett, director of PhilaU’s industrial design programs and William L. Jasper Chair for Industrial Design, who attributed the course’s success to the multidisciplinary teams working together so effectively.

Medicine + Industrial Design was taught by Mikael Avery, PhilaU adjunct industrial design professor, and Rob Pugliese, PharmD, BCPS, clinical assistant professor in the College of Pharmacy and co-director of JeffDESIGN.

Moving forward, the students will continue to refine their concepts and seek partnership opportunities to develop them further, Pugliese said. “Our partnership with Philadelphia University has made it possible for our students to work closely with students in design fields. Through these projects, our students are able to work on interdisciplinary teams that prepare them to tackle the toughest challenges in healthcare today.”

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