6 Weeks Service Design
How do we redirect patients who are not in need of emergency care away from the emergency department.
What is it?
A service re-design of the Emergency Department Waiting Room in the Mater Hospital, Dublin.
What does it consist of?
Re-design of the environment.
A source of information to inform the waiting patients of how the process works.
A live feed updating the patients of how many patients are in the system and of what degree of urgency they are in.
We began the project as a group of 18 people, 12 UX designers and 6 Service designers. We collected 40+ interviews with people including general public, patients, medical staff, general staff and experts in the field. We also gathered 2 weeks worth of observations.
I, as well as my colleagues Jorje Navarro and Nikhitha Shiroor decided to focus on the area of reducing patient frustration in the ED waiting room. We identified that by reducing frustration and anxiety of the patients, it would develop an opportunity for them to be more open to alternative services apart from the emergency department.
From our findings we found that frustration and anxiety experienced by the patients within the emergency department waiting room were from these factors;
- Lack of information given to them of how the process works.
- Lack of information of where they are in the queue to be triaged.
- Atmosphere can be tense.
- Lack of patience from the patients and cause a negative ripple effect to each other.
How Might We's:
How might we inform the patients of where they are in the process of the emergency waiting room?
How might we supply an idea of how long they will be waiting during the process?
How might we make the environment of the emergency department waiting room more considerate for the patients who experience the inevitable waiting time?
- A Pink Interior - To achieve a calming environment.
- Coloured Wristbands - Given to the patients from a triage nurse once they are triaged. The colour they are given is related their level of urgency towards treatment.
- Information Screens - 4 large screens within the waiting room that co-relate with the wristbands that show what their band means and how many other people have each wristband. This gives an idea of how long they will be waiting.
- Information Banners - Clearly informs the patients of how the ED system worked step by step and where they are in the process.
ED Banner V.1
Photos were difficult to see
ED Banner V.2
Simpler images to convey the message
ED Screen V.1
Too many elements for one screen. Images featured at the top to show process were featured as banners latter during iterations.
ED Screen V.2
Elements would be too difficult to see on a screen that could be potentially too far to see .
ED Screen 1 V.3
Screen 1 shows meaning of each band clearly.
ED Screen 2 V.3
Switches to screen 2 after 30 seconds to show how many patients are currently waiting in each category.
Prototyping and User Testing:
Prototyping and user testing was essential to our project. It was important to see how patients would react to our concept as there were many factors to consider in terms of the stressful social nature of a ED waiting room.
We applied large pink sheets of paper to one wall of the waiting room and we worked with the triage nurses and gave patients prototypes of our coloured wristbands during the triage process based on their level of urgency. We also applied a live active information screen to an already existing television screen within the waiting room with live updates. This was achieved by connecting a laptop and manually updating the information screen with updates to each other via text message. We also applied 4 to scale information banners in the waiting room.
We carried out user testing for 3 days and gained interesting feedback and observations. The patients interacted with our concepts and believed it was part of procedure. Patients were also looking at each other to see what coloured band they each had and it provided them an understanding and empathy for each others condition and how long they could be waiting for treatment.
Patients had mixed opinions about the concept of a pink waiting room, although it was mentioned a number of times how it could achieve a calming effect. In terms of the screen and information banner we provided, patients were realising how long they waiting, the seriousness of their condition and felt more clarity of the overall procedure was helpful.
The triage nurses also applied bands to patients while we were not there and at times forgot to apply a band which made some patients more attentive to the screen and asked questions such as, "why don't I have a band?".
Below are some comments from some of the patients we interviewed.
After 6 weeks, all concepts addressing the problems of the emergency department as a whole were presented to all relevant staff of the Mater Hospital and experts. We awaiting to hear from the Mater hospital about implementations.
Waiting Area (before)
Waiting Area (after)
Outside Triage Area (before)
Outside Triage Area (after)
Registration Area (before)
Registration Area (after)