Before Carilion Children’s Hospital (part of the nonprofit Carilion Clinic) opened its pediatric care center in Roanoke, Virginia, patients often had to travel between several facilities for doctor’s visits, x-rays and prescriptions.
Opening in October 2021 on the former JC Penney site, Carilion Children’s Tanglewood Center brings together a variety of specialties, services and amenities into one 128,000-square-foot, two-story building. It consolidates care while also presenting an opportunity to reshape the patient experience.
“We want everything to be high-tech to take us into the future,” said Jennifer Rotenberry, architectural project manager at the Carilion Clinic in Roanoke.
One way they’ve achieved this is through a new interactive feature in the main waiting area, which is located behind the stairs leading to the second floor. The medical facility realized that the nearly 800 people who visit the Tanglewood Center each day were staring at the wall across the stairs while they waited for appointments.
Recognizing an opportunity to do more, the healthcare organization decided to install an interactive “social butterfly” wall designed by experience design, construction, and technology firm Dimensional Innovations (Kansas City, KS).
“They wanted a pleasant and welcoming wow factor that also provided a positive distraction to help people feel calm while they waited,” said Alex Divine, healthcare account director at Dimensional Innovations.
The butterfly in the Carilion Children’s logo inspired the theme of the display, which consists of six vertically oriented TV screens.
Using a touchscreen kiosk on the wall, patients can select a butterfly to color in and then “release” it into a display. Kids can then watch their butterflies float across the Roanoke-style landscape while three motion-detecting cameras sense the user’s presence in front of the screen. This causes digital insects to swarm and form shapes on the screen near where the user is standing.
The display offers multiple ways for people to participate in digital scenarios, while providing a sense of calm and control – which is especially important for younger patients who may not know why they are coming in or how long they will be staying during their appointments, Divine Say.
“Creating your own character gives you that sense of control,” he said.
Plus, Divine says patients and visitors who don’t want to create butterflies can still enjoy the display. “Even if you don’t touch it at all, at least it’s a piece of art that you can admire from a distance. It helps provide that sense of calm,” he says.
Most importantly, interactive features must be equally available to patients of all abilities, ages and heights.
“We wanted something that could be used by all patients,” Rotenberry said. “That’s why we positioned the hardware vertically and mounted it about 18 inches off the ground, so both the smallest and tallest kids can use it.”
Unveiled in early 2022, a few months after the Tanglewood Center opened, the digital display has been so popular with patients and families that Carilion Clinic has added more interactive walls at some of its other facilities.
“I don’t see anyone sitting there waiting,” Rotenberry said. “I see kids interacting with the new video wall.”
Brooke Bilyj is a nationally awarded freelance writer and owner of Bantamedia, a Cleveland-based content marketing, PR and SEO firm.she can be in Brooke@bantamedia.com.