Site Visit: Kaiser Permanente’s Garfield Innovation Center, by Emily Zhang

The Silicon Valley Program students recently attended a Kaiser Permanente tour, a new event addition among many great offerings of the semester. We spent two hours on a Monday afternoon at Kaiser’s Garfield Innovation Center and saw several displays of futuristic health care plans. The plans were split into two ideas: patients and doctors’ experiences within the hospital scenario and patients and doctors’ experiences outside of the hospital. Written here in this blog post are some amazing concepts that we saw.

Within the hospital, Kaiser Permanente’s innovation team first introduced to us a triangular floor layout that best uses space and provides doctors with the shortest distances from hallways to rooms. Everything from floor material to the wall paint was carefully thought through. For example, the floor’s rubber was made from recycled plastic that requires less harmful chemical treatment for cleaning. Furthermore, the wall’s warm colors help patients get better faster. Within the hospital’s patient room, our tour guides indicated that they perceive it can be split into three sections - the nurse’s section, the patient’s section, and the family’s section. They also revealed several faults with the original design, which were improved upon and utilized in a second sample patient room. We were also shown an operating room, which was amazing because it was like seeing a medical drama set in real life. There were some surprising features throughout the overall hospital experience. An Xbox could be seen in a patient’s room, an autonomous robot could roam the hallways, and human dummies lying on gurneys could both cry and sweat to simulate sickness.

For experiences outside of the hospital, Kaiser Permanente is pushing the message “imagine care everywhere.” Several projects that could potentially bring care everywhere are health spots in retail and office spaces, ‘medicar’, and a connected home. Health spots are basically private cubicles located in populated places to provide easier access to solutions for simple medical problems. One would walk in to the cubicle, meet with a doctor communicating remotely through a computer screen, and receive a diagnosis with possible prescription. A medicar is the same concept as health spots but operated through cars in an Uber-like service. The idea is that one could call a medicar to one’s doorstep and receive treatment easily. A connected home featured multiple digital screens to converse with doctors, receive health updates, and receive reminders for medication intake. While these projects seem five to seven years away from fruition due to high costs and difficulty of execution, I am very excited to see how these futuristic concepts play out and improve health care in America.

Emily Zhang '16
Claremont McKenna College Intern, Electric Imp