Better care starts with safety and comfort.

Dress For Success: Bringing Innovation to Patient Apparel

By Joe Przepiorka, Vice President, Marketing
August 2017

*Originally published in Surgical Products Magazine


Providing quality care has long been a priority for hospital administration; however, as patient experience becomes closely tied to reimbursement, it is more imperative than ever to ensure patients feel safe and comfortable. In response to this shift in the healthcare industry, care facilities are seeking new ways to improve their patient’s experience. One unique approach to improving patient safety and comfort is through patient apparel solutions designed to ensure patients are protected and comfortable while in the surgical suite.

Product adoption can be a challenge in any acute care environment, but conversion may be easier when tied to a goal of improving patient outcomes. The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) developed the IHI Triple Aim, a framework that built on the belief that new designs must be developed to simultaneously pursue three dimensions called the “Triple Aim”, which include:

  • Improving the patient care experience, including both quality and satisfaction
  • Improving the health of populations
  • Reducing the per capita cost of health care

Though there are many ways to apply the Triple Aim framework, a more innovative approach that acute care facilities could consider includes addressing these three goals with new patient apparel solutions.

Creating a Positive Patient Experience

A primary goal of most acute facilities is to improve patient care and overall experience. Protecting patient modesty and properly maintaining patient comfort is vital to a facility’s success in serving the patient population.

Patient gowns are intended to ease providers’ ability to care for the patient and improve overall patient experience. Yet, gowns are frequently described as one of the most frustrating parts of receiving care in an acute care facility. Supplying gowns that offer an adequate amount of coverage and added protection helps patients feel less vulnerable during an emotionally and physically challenging period.

One way to promote a comfortable experience for patients is to ensure their modesty is protected through appropriate apparel solutions. Recently, gown lines like the C2 gown address patient modesty concerns through wider coverage in the back of the gown.

C2 gowns address patient modesty concerns

Depending on the individual fit required for each patient, the gowns in this line feature ties that are located on the front and/or side of the gown creating a smooth surface along the patient’s back, removing the risk of an uncomfortable pressure point being created while the patients recline in a chair or lay in bed.

Fabric can also impact the patient’s overall experience while wearing the gown. Gowns using 100% spun polyester offer better airflow and wicking than that traditional cotton/poly blends that have become an industry standard.

As improving patient experience has become a more prevalent goal for acute care facilities hoping to adopt the IHI Triple Aim framework, consider converting to patient gowns that are designed with patient comfort in mind. Remove the threat of potentially embarrassing gaps that patients have come to fear to create a more comfortable experience for patients.

Addressing Population Health Concerns

Within the perioperative suite, maintaining normothermia continues to be a priority and was a focus of the May 2017 issue of the AORN Journal released “Inadvertent Perioperative Hypothermia: Current Nursing Knowledge”, authored by Karen K Giuliano, PhD, RN, FAAN and Jane Hendricks, BSN, RN, CNOR. The article states that inadvertent perioperative hypothermia affects an estimated 70% of surgical patients and is associated with adverse clinical outcomes.

According to the AORN survey, “when asked about the most common complications associated with hypothermia, respondents identified shivering (68.2%), surgical site infections (65.4%), and cardiac events (61.7%); only 44.8% and 33.6% identified blood loss and pressure injuries, respectively.”

These results indicate that there is still a significant need for ongoing interventions to educate and promote best practices on hypothermia prevention. One unique patient apparel solution comes in the form of a prewarming gown that utilizes the patient's body heat instead of equipment and electricity to effectively warm the patient throughout their perioperative journey.

Thermoflect gowns help prevent hypothermia by preserving–or banking–a patient's core body temperature. Maintaining a normal core body temperature is likely to lead to improved outcomes such as reduced surgical site infections, shorter hospitals stays (which means reduced health care costs), and an increase in comfort.

Thermoflect gowns help prevent hypothermia

Lowering the Cost per capita

Cost is often a driving factor in health care decisions for patients and providers alike. Providers understand that the expenses related to gowns are a cost of doing business. However, that doesn’t mean that gowns should be a costly part of doing business.

If one is focusing solely on the cost of purchasing and managing gowns, seek out gown lines and vendors that offer varying price-points. Additionally, look for gowns that are made of materials with longer color retention and are more durable than a traditional cotton/poly blend gown. New 100% spun polyester gown fabric can extend the lifetime of the product, reduce replacement frequency, and lower processing expenses by offering a reduced dry time.

It can be a challenge to balance cost, quality of care, and outcomes. Patient apparel that incorporates Thermoflect Heat Reflective Technology is designed to help you meet the needs of your patients at a cost that is often 50% or less compared to other warming methods.

Applying the Triple Aim Theory to Close the Gap on Gowns and the Patient Experience

If your facility is hoping to improve patient experiences, address pressing population health concerns, and lower costs per capita, adopting innovative patient apparel solutions may be an approach to consider.

Gowns are meant to enhance the level of care your facility’s providers can offer your patients, but outdated patient apparel can function as a deterrent from patients receiving the care they need. Take into account the importance of patient comfort and modesty, as well as the need to support and promote patient care, and choose patient apparel products that possess the optimum combination of style, durability, and construction.

Though product conversion within an acute care setting is often challenging, the application of the Triple Aim framework aligns new patient gowns to patient experience, population health, and cost outcomes. Adopting innovative patient apparel solutions can help to improve patient safety and comfort within your facility, while simultaneously keeping laundry management cost effective.

Call your local Encompass Group sales representative at 1-800-328-5525 today to learn more about how we can help your staff improve the patient experience.


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