Hinnovic » The complexity of developing and implementing simple solutions

The complexity of developing and implementing simple solutions

The complexity of developing and implementing simple solutionsIn a previous dossier on the design of innovations, we sustained that “just because most of the objects surrounding us are familiar and because they seem to fit our environments and habits fairly logically, does not mean they must be the way they are”. The standpoint from which designers defines the problem to be solved may orient them towards different solutions. Take for instance the hospital gown.


Who did not have to wear it at least once until now? Raise your hand if you enjoyed the experience? Not only does the hospital gown transform us into a patient, a role that none of us like to endorse, but it is ugly, hard to tie and it exposes to everyone’s view our most intimate parts, regardless of the size of our body. Is this the only solution? No! And this is what Noémi Marquis – who graduated in industrial design from the University of Montreal –demonstrated with her supervisor, Denyse Roy.


The requirements of the laundry services must be consideredTheir adventure began five years ago and is far from over yet. Five years to redesign an object that seems a priori so simple! Why did it take so long? Because it involved many actors with specific constraints and needs: patients, health care providers and launderers. The gown had to fit patients of all size and ages, and be easy to put on. While preserving the intimacy and dignity of patients, it had to secure an easy access to the body for health care providers. As the hospital gown spends more time at the laundry than on the patient, it should not raise maintenance costs: no metal or plastic clips, lightweight fabrics, a minimum of seams. The final result: “The Duo”, that is, two half gowns, one that covers the front of the body, and the second that covers the back or vice versa, no mistake possible.


Everybody is delighted! At last, an alternative that fulfils its functions while preserving patients’ dignity! Yet, our designers estimate it will take at least five to ten years to implement the new hospital gown in health institutions in Quebec. Why will it take so long? Because each supply contract between launderers and health institutions will have to be changed, and each department within hospitals will have to be persuaded of its relevance. Once their participation will have been secured, healthcare providers will have to be trained and patients informed. (Reference: La révolution de la chemise d’hôpital). Under these circumstances, it is not surprising that the “familiar objects surrounding us”, despite the fact that they are far from the optimal solution, often remain the way they are…

Author : Myriam Hivon, Ph.D.


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