Community January 4th, 2018

Parsons Students Create A More Modest Hospital Gown

Since the 19th Century, the healthcare industry has been in an age of enlightenment.

The last 200 years have given us smallpox and polio vaccines, antibiotics and antivirals to stave off deadly bacteria, as well as breakthrough medicines to treat — and possibly cure — chronic disorders, such as ALS and Hepatitis C.

However, despite the many medical advancements, one of the most fundamental basic needs of patients has long been stuck in the dark ages: the hospital gown.

Ah, yes, you know the one. The frumpy-looking tablecloth that drapes over your body yet neglects to cover your most intimate parts. Where every time you stand or move you feel as if you’re giving the clinical staff and others a free, unsolicited show.

But just as medicine saw its renaissance years ago, gowns today are going through a similar (and exciting!) reformation, with Zappos lending a helping hand.

Yes. That Zappos.

In spring 2017, healthwear company Care+Wear and Parsons School of Design teamed up to create the Patient Gown, a totally reimagined cover-up for patients that conceals the body and combines five different types of patient gowns (IV access, maternity, telemetry, bariatric, bedridden) into one. As a result, the Patient Gown both increases comfort and reduces costs for hospitals.

“Our company was founded on the promise to improve the patient experience. When you visit a healthcare institution, your experience begins the second you’re told to put on a hospital gown.”

  • Chaitenya Razdan, Care+Wear cofounder and CEO

The Parsons course, taught by fashion designers Lucy Jones and Brittany Dickinson, focused on studying and creating a concept that considered the entire lifecycle of the Patient Gown.

Students, including Zappos-sponsored intern, Irene Lu, worked with patients, nurses, doctors, hospital leaders and laundering experts to finalize the gown and help put it into production.

“It took a few months to conceptualize the final design. There was constant prototyping and re-iterations to figure out what worked the best for both patients and doctors,” commented Lu. “Not only does this gown cover a wider range of patients and increase functionality, it also reduces fabric waste by eliminating multiple gown versions in the hospitals.”

To ensure the comfort and dignity of hospital patients, the Patient Gown features a cotton/poly blend capable of surviving industrial washing cycles, dual thumb ties for patients with limited dexterity, snaps on the arms to provide easy IV access, and box-stitching that provides full backside coverage and patient/doctor convenience.

Since 1999, Zappos has been leader in customer service and serving the community through a variety of non-consumer initiatives. So, it only seems fitting for the company to also partake in changing the in-hospital patient experience.

“At Zappos, customer service is paramount,” said Maggie Hsu, Chief of Staff at Zappos. “Recently we’ve been asking ourselves, what if we could take that customer service and bring it to other industries? Being a part of this class was an exciting way to both improve the hospital experience and further our commitment to human-centered design.”

The gown is already in use at MedStar Health, the most extensive not-for-profit health system in Maryland and the Washington, D.C. area, and is also available online.

No longer will patients receive modern medicine while being forced to wear Middle Age garbs. The Age of Discovery (as in others seeing your behind) is over, and Care+Wear has brought gowns into the 21st Century.

And dignifiedly so.