Over the past five years, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has been laying the foundations to implement the next generation of healthcare – new technologies, design and systems that will transform the way we care for patients. We have been able to work with a diverse range of health technology partners as well as renowned and emerging artists, architects and designers. Our aim is to further invest in healthcare technology to elevate patient care and empower and enhance our staff.
Our award winning RELAX Digital programme uses moving imagery and installations to distract and relax patients in waiting and treatment areas. To build on this, we will continue to commission artists to work with immersive, virtual and mixed reality. These will include virtual landscapes/skyscapes and projects that bring the outside word into our hospitals.
The Cardiac Catheter Lab at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital is often a place of considerable anxiety for patients – not only do patients worry about their health condition, but the procedure itself can be very uncomfortable. Studies show that providing care with attention to the environment, can potentially lead to reduction in anxiety levels and therefore improvement in patient experience.
With this in mind, we are conducting a study incorporating the use of Virtual Reality (VR) within the hospital environment. We are collaborating with film artist Leon Ancliffe from Flix Films to create a series of bespoke VR footage that patients can view using a Virtual Reality headset. Scenes include Clapham Common, Kew Gardens, Richmond Park and a view from the Thames River.
The outcomes of this study will offer an assessment on the effect of VR on patient anxiety, pain, heart rate, blood pressure, cardiac autonomics and respiratory rate.
Deer in Richmond Park
A boat ride along The Thames
A new project, MyHospital – Technology Enhanced Patient Care, will enable inpatients to have more control of their immediate environment. Digital sensors will monitor light levels, acoustics and temperature to be then controlled from a patients’ bedside. This project will also form part of the first research study of its kind in the UK – in partnership with Imperial Health and Sonitus Systems.
Our digital health and robotics programme to aid patient wellbeing and recovery was launched in 2015 with the Breathing Stone. We partnered with Bath University and digital health intelligence business BioBeats to produce and pilot the Breathing Stone, a handheld, self-guided breathing and meditation device to manage patient stress and anxiety before surgery. We have also partnered with the Imperial War Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum and Rosch Projects to offer robot tours of both museums to help reduce isolation in our older people’s wards.
To further develop this programme, we are exploring new and innovative ways to combine technology and healthcare in an acute environment. Including:
- Using the Breathing Stone concept to design new handheld interventions which use sound and light to help combat stress and anxiety.
- Widening accessibility of participatory arts activities by creating new musical instruments, building on our existing app OPRA, which brings music-making to patients’ bedsides.
- Developing wearable gaming technology to assist with rehabilitation for patients making therapy more interactive, engaging and enjoyable. This is building on a trial project with the Stroke team, where they used the Nintendo Wii games console as a form of therapy for patients following a stroke. The team found that patients mobility improved, and engagement increased significantly.
Innovative uses of music and sound technology have been shown to have benefits for patients in a number of medical environments. Andrew Hall, our Sound and Research Consultant, works closely with hospital staff and patients to research and create bespoke audio projects or installations which can be tailored towards specific areas of the hospital, creating the optimum healing environment. Read more about Andy's work here.