Commercial Interior Décor: Improving Patient and Customer Experiences
As we move into the second half of 2021, there is no denying that COVID-19 still has a firm grip on the world. The fight against the pandemic is starting to make progress as vaccines are rolled out more broadly, but there is still a lot of work to be done — and some states and countries are still experiencing surges that drive home the fact that we aren’t completely out of the proverbial woods just yet.
One sector, in particular, has been hit especially hard: healthcare. From overloaded hospitals, to local doctors’ offices and national pharmacies, healthcare providers of all types have had far more challenges to overcome in the past year than most businesses. You might be wondering, however, what that has to do with the wide-format printing industry — after all, print isn’t going to heal anyone, right? The reality is that now, more than ever, the interior décor of a space can mean the difference between calm, happy patients who are easier to treat, and panicked, depressed patients who present additional challenges on top of whatever problems have brought them through the door.
And interior décor is something wide-format printers can help with.
Smarter Healthcare Experiences
HP’s Tom Wittenberg, Industry Relations & Events, recounts a major project he worked on for a children’s hospital, working to create not just unique and engaging images, but integrating it with interactive elements such as videos, or even trivia games, that could be accessed using a tablet PC and scanning different elements of wallpaper, for example.
“The idea was a background wallpaper with embedded triggers,” he notes, “for example, a map of the world on the wall. And a kid could take an iPad and go put it on ‘Paris,’ and … it would show a quick video.” The heart of the system was gathering the data at check-in, such as age and interests, to then ensure that when that child scanned an element, they received age-appropriate content, and if they scanned the same thing multiple times, they would get several different pieces of content.
“The purpose was to get kids out and moving around, healing more quickly,” he says. “That’s one of the biggest challenges — finding ways to get people with serious diseases up and walking and moving to improve their health much more quickly, and get back home faster.”
The scope of the project quickly grew, and Wittenberg notes that, unfortunately, after a year-and-a-half, the project eventually had to be scaled back. The challenges of creating a project of that size proved to be too much — at least with current technologies — but it does prove that there is an incredibly strong need for creative print professionals coming through the door with innovative ideas to help improve the patient experiences — not just grow a brand.
The biggest challenge in this case was the scope of the planned interactive elements, which proved to be far more complex than initially anticipated. But for other wide-format printers looking to create projects on a slightly less ambitious scale, there were a few other lessons Wittenberg shared that apply to any project in a healthcare environment.
First, he notes, it’s all about having the right materials. The average wallcovering substrates used in most applications, for example, simply can’t stand up to the needs of a healthcare facility, which often uses harsh cleaning chemicals such as ammonia and bleach on every surface — including the walls. “No matter what kind of wallpaper it is, that will do a lot of damage,” Wittenberg notes. “So you have to figure out ways to laminate it so they can clean it, but it won’t damage the wallpaper.”
Jonathan Baltic, the SVP at BrandArmor, notes that this is the very problem his company set out to solve, creating a product that was durable enough to stand up to the rigorous requirements in facilities such as hospitals, but was also still receptive enough to be printable on wide-format equipment.
The latest products in their line focus on providing more of a matte finish needed for interior spaces, as well as an antimicrobial option, which is something healthcare facilities in particular are starting to demand as the technology to produce this type of substrate gets more broad recognition.
When they first launched the antimicrobial product, called SafeWalls, Baltic notes, the focus was on viruses such as E coli. “And then COVID came, and we changed direction. We’re now very focused on healthcare and businesses that want to get the doors open, while doing as much as they can to limit risk.” In fact, he says, just this past Fall the company put the product through official testing to prove that it kills up to 96.2% of the COVID virus within an hour, allowing it to officially market the product for COVID prevention.