A new Detroit design is rolling off the assembly line in the Motor City in 2015, made with a color-coded trim for ease of use, cotton-poplin blend for comfort and - most importantly - a closed backside that finally offers patients backside that finally offers patients more comfort and privacy in the hospital.
Called Model G, it will be the first new patient hospital gown designed in nearly a century to blend style and comfort for the patient with essential clinical function needed by the patient's health care team.
The gown is navy and light blue, to coincide with the Henry Ford Hospital colors. The colors, however, can easily be modified for other hospitals to fit their brand.
"Our No. 1 goal with this design was fixing the backside of the gown - patients' biggest complaint - while still allowing the health care team full access to the patient," says Michael Forbes, a product designer at the Innovation Institute at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, where the new gown was invented and tested by patients.
"The patient hospital gown is the one object that actually touches every single patient in health care, so a simple change - like closing the backside - can have a big impact on a patient's hospital stay or outpatient procedure."
Henry Ford is working with fellow Detroit-based legend Carhartt, a premier American work wear brand, to manufacture the gown, with 35,000 due to arrive in early 2015 for patients across Henry Ford Health System's 29 medical centers and six hospitals, which annually handle 90,000 hospital patients and 3.2 million outpatient visits.
"It's always inspiring to partner with iconic local organizations, like Henry Ford Health System," said Rick Fecowicz, Carhartt's director of licensing. "Working together on the patient gown provided an opportunity for us to lend our manufacturing expertise to a product that is truly innovative and will impact countless patients in a positive way."
The new patient hospital gown - resembling a wrap-around robe that completely closes in the back and front - was created and tested at Henry Ford to be safely used for inpatient hospital stays, clinic visits and medical tests, including MRI and CT scans.
Model G trades in the hard-to-reach and uncomfortable ties in the back for adjustable snaps on the front and along the shoulders of the gown. Additionally, the new gown is:
- Closed in the back with a fold-over access panel, offering patients more privacy
- Made of a thicker, cotton/poplin blend material, which keeps patients warmer than the previous patient gowns
- Double-breasted in the front, using snaps, instead of ties, to close the gown
- Intuitive in design, with different colored trim and stitching along the left and right sides of the gown, making it easy for patients to put on
- Accessible for IVs and other medical lines. The health care teams say it offers them uncompromised clinical access to the patient without needing to remove the gown
- Tailored to fit a variety of patient populations, with snaps on either side of the gown allowing it to adjust from size medium to extra-large.
Model G is among the first inventions to be made public and produced for patient use by the Henry Ford Innovation Institute.
"The name - Model G - is a tribute to hospital founder Henry Ford's innovative and iconic Model T automobile," says Scott Dulchavsky, M.D., CEO of the institute.
Like the Model T, the concept for Model G began with a simple idea from students at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. Three years ago, the students collaborated with the Innovation Institute to take a fresh, non-clinical look at items throughout the hospital and offer feedback for improvement.
They immediately saw the hospital gown as an opportunity and challenge for a complete redesign.
Since then, Model G has gone through several redesigns and a clinical trial with inpatients at Henry Ford Hospital who wore the gown during their hospital stay.
The majority of patients in the clinical trial, including liver transplant patient Dale Milford of Farmington Hills, Mich., reported that the new gown was comfortable and convenient to wear offering a great deal more privacy.
"There's a real sense of a loss of privacy and dignity in the hospital," says Milford. "I was here for many days and many nights and that new hospital gown was maybe a little thing, but it had a big effect on making me feel more comfortable, like I was wearing something that I might even wear at home."
Patients also provided feedback that helped the designers improve the location of the snap stitching, to improved comfort. Clinical staff too offered ideas about the snaps, which helped the gown designers select snaps that could be used in radiology testing, including MRI and CT scans.
Now with the Carhartt supply agreement, Henry Ford will be able to offer the gown to all of its patients in 2015.
The cost to manufacture and purchase the new gown is in line with existing gowns, says Forbes. Laundering is exactly the same too; the new gown meets with current national hospital cleaning standards.
The Innovation Institute plans to establish additional licensing agreements that would grant rights to produce the Model G design for other interested customers and health care systems.