Finding the Balance

Hello from the Innovation Hub! Welcome to our weekly blog that provides updates and anecdotes of the current projects at the Hub (located on the first floor of the main hospital adjacent to the cashier and administrative offices). Please stop by or email us at if you have any questions, thoughts, or comments that you would like to share with us!  Check out our website, too!

I also wanted to take a quick moment to introduce myself. Hi! My name is Jessica Dawson, and I am a project coordinator over in the Hub. I facilitate design projects, interview patients and staff, and assist with groundwork at the Hub. Andrew Yin, the resident blog post writer and my co-project coordinator in crime, graciously allowed me to guest write this week’s blog post. I am excited to share with you what the Hub has been working on!

Now back to the Hospital Gown Design project! Last week, we explained some of the initial end-user feedback about gowns at Sibley from patients and staff members. There were several common motifs in the interviews centering around size, color, choice, convenience, dignity, temperature, exposure, staff requirements, style, female needs, materials, comfort, and user-friendliness.


The gown design team went back for a second round of interviews during the winter holidays and talked to patients, family members, and co-workers about their experiences with hospital gowns. These interviews utilized targeted questions meant to delve deeper into the previously identified pain points and common motifs. When we reconvened as a group, the team members shared interview quotes and observations via written post-its.

After the group share out, we synthesized the post-its with quotes and key summary words into distinct categories and themes to gain a better understanding of our patient and staff end-user feedback.

Style .jpg

Using ad-lib style worksheets, the team was able to define the end-user problems from their interviews.

The worksheets contained the following fill-ins:

1. _____________ want(s)  to go from ________________ to _____________________

2. _________________ needs a way to ___________________ in order to __________________

Some examples that succinctly captured the gown problems of our end users are:  

  • The patient needs a way to feel comfortable and dignified in order to heal.
  • The patient wants to go from feeling vulnerable and losing control to feeling empowered and dignified.
  • The staff need a way to easily access the patient in order to render care.
  • And a more light hearted problem statement: the tooshies want to go from flapping in the breeze to being secured inside a garment/gown.  

After defining the problem, the group learned how to translate a problem into a How Might We statement. How Might We (HMW) statements flip a problem into a brainstorming platform. Writing How Might We statements can get tricky because it’s easy to think of a statement that is too narrow in focus, too vague, or out of scope. An ideal How Might We allows for a wide range of solutions but is narrow enough that the team has some helpful boundaries during a brainstorm.  The team’s fieldwork following the meeting is to come up with three How Might We statements that will be used for next week’s brainstorming session.

A great example that the team already came up with is: How might we create a gown that makes it easy for a patient to dress themselves with little instruction?

Later in the week one of the design team members came in to work on their homework—the HMW statements. He helped me understand the challenges associated with changing and improving the gowns. While we learned that patients want choices in terms of size, style, color, and materials, from a supply chain perspective these choices translate to more complexities and more storage space. “Do people think about the square feet of storage space each gown option could cause?”

Hmm. I haven’t really thought about this project like that before.

One of my favorite aspects of these design projects is the diversity of the participants. Each person brings a different perspective with their unique experiences and interactions in their role in the hospital. The front-line staff working with patients reiterate the importance of staff user-friendliness and accessibility in the gowns in order to treat patients. The upper level management reminds the group of finding a happy medium between cost and patient and staff satisfaction.

It’s a balance. Innovation at Sibley is collaborative.

The topics we tackle in design projects are not isolated problems. These problems affect different departments, staff members, and patients. Problem-solving as a diverse group allows us to brainstorm and prototype creative ideas that we may not have thought of alone. I look forward to brainstorming with the design team this week to help bring more dignity to the patient gowns at Sibley!


Thank you for reading! Stop by the Hub and say hi!
Jessica Dawson