In Healthcare Design, Upstream Travel Leads to Downstream Success

In Healthcare Design, Upstream Travel Leads to Downstream Success

It’s no secret that a major component of healthcare design is focused on patient comfort in a hospital environment. When grappling with healthcare related design problems we are typically torn between hospital procedure and patient experiences. Take patient freedoms for example. As a patient you want as much personal freedom and access as possible. Having human contact and even getting to the restroom on your own are of the utmost importance and have been proven to reduce recovery time.

They’re also not always easily satisfied. Having guests and human contact isn’t always possible due to procedures, infection control, scheduling, etc. Getting to the restroom independently is a goal to set in many situations but can be a long and dehumanizing road that can be uncomfortable for both patient and caregiver. There are loads of conflicting issues like this one stacked against us when we approach human-centered-design problems.

Four main themes highlighted in a recent study of patient’s pain points were “comfort to facilitate healing, control over the environment and privacy, a sense of connection to the outside world, and access to the things patients need (e.g., their own property, the bathroom, etc.)”(1)

Voice-of-customer (VOC) outlines what standard healthcare products should aim to solve for. The real issue here is most healthcare product is developed on an island.Yes, it may work with a few other products from the companies offering but the underlying issues remain. Therefore, good product development needs to be fed by extensive research, product positioning and data. The further upstream we can begin to understand the system the better. These issues are far too big to be solved by a single product and instead are pointed at the entire environment and user experience. We’re talking about symbiotic product, able to adapt to ever-changing environments, becoming one with another and breathing together.

Automotive mailer final

As we pour through surveys, user group feedback, observation sessions and data we are constantly reminded of the patient’s experience. This leads us to another interesting design problem.If we focus solely on the patient experience, it will likely end in product that is difficult to bring to market at budget. If we solely think about our business case, we will continue to output similar product and never improve our user experience. This, like most things in life is all about finding balance. The better we research and capture the voice of the patient/caregiverwhile making good business decisions based around the limitations and scope of the product, the better our chances of achieving better outcomes for users, OEM’s and hospital systems.

For more in-depth insights into our work in the healthcare market visit our website to review case studies on recent healthcare projects we’ve had the pleasure to be a part of.

  • (1) what-patients-want/

Conor Fredricks

Industrial Designer

Fredricks Design, Inc.

Fredricks Design, Inc. is a full-service design and engineering firm based in Grand Haven, Michigan. The firm specializes in working as an extension of the client studio and engineering team to identify the right problems and accelerate development of solutions from early ideation, feasibility, concept development and production of mock-ups, prototypes and show properties. Fredricks works with key Clients in the automotive interiors and seating industries, advanced rides and show action projects for themed attractions, furniture, healthcare and consumer products markets.

Furniture and Work Space Insights

Furniture and Work Space Insights

City planning for the work space.

We commissioned a research and ideation project to explore the correlation between city planning and the design of work environments. The findings from this study supported our premise that any work environment is a landscape of unique environments and spaces designed to meet different types of activities and work styles. This connection is a powerful concept that can be leveraged on space planning and furniture design. Collaborative partnerships with the customer, A+D firms and product designers from diverse backgrounds will drive new thinking and dramatic improvements in the work place.

The work space continues to evolve and the next several years will be a challenging time for many furniture brands. The overall market is flat and there are simply a lot of companies competing for market share. Ongoing uncertainty in the market will require agility and responsiveness to customer demands for new thinking and solutions.

A recent day trip to Neocon in Chicago highlighted the trends that will shape the furniture market over the next several years and beyond.


How to Construct an Effective Design Brief

How to Construct an Effective Design Brief

effective design brief

“We benchmark in/out of market, gather voice of the consumer (VOC) and intelligence to form a project brief that outlines goals and problem statements. Our clients sometimes provide the project brief”.

This quote, from the Discover Phase of our product development process, highlights the importance of a thorough and detailed design brief in early phase product development.

Our work over three decades with some of the world’s best companies has been challenging, rewarding and, admittedly sometimes a bit frustrating. Looking back at our diverse work, we have learned to ask the right questions during the development of a well-constructed design brief. We offer this brief essay to share our key lessons and help improve our work with clients and suppliers. (more…)

Auto Show 2015 | A Project Case Study

Auto Show 2015 | A Project Case Study


All of our clients struggle with the same challenges; they have limited internal design and engineering resources, too many projects and not enough time to complete them. They are also looking for fresh insights to develop new products that build an emotional connection with the end user. This situation is prevalent across all markets and companies.

The annual North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) is held in January in Detroit. Many of our clients begin scrambling in early fall for resources to meet tight timelines and technical challenges to prepare properties and prototypes for the show.

This brief case study follows our work with a key client from September 2014 through the installation of show properties at NAIAS in January 2015.

How we started?


Bongo: A Case Study in Blue Ocean Strategy

Bongo: A Case Study in Blue Ocean Strategy

Bongo: A Case Study in Blue Ocean Strategy

We work with clients across a broad range of activities to accelerate the development of user-focused, differentiated, smart product solutions. This case study highlights the full cycle development of low-voltage power solutions for applications in the retail environment.

we help our clients sail into blue ocean.

Several years ago we sparked on an opportunity to partner with one of our clients in the retail space. Harbor Industries is a third generation, privately held Michigan enterprise focused on the design and build of point-of-purchase displays for the retail environment.

Harbor identified product diversification as a key to their long-term success in the demanding retail industry. The company has been successful over three generations in meeting the needs of retail customers in a range of markets and product categories. (more…)

Indiana Furniture + Fredricks Case Study

Indiana Furniture + Fredricks Case Study

We partnered with Indiana Furniture in Q4 2012 to develop Felix, a new offering to expand their seating line.

Our case study tells the story of our collaborative development from early exploration of the problem statement, design brief development, ideation, concept development, and production release.

We leveraged our complementary capabilities to accelerate the development of a new product to raise the bar for Indiana Furniture in the seating category. Felix is the first offering in a series of seating products based on intelligent product planning and execution of our combined talents.

Please check out the chair development case study and contact us to discuss your future product challenges. Thanks!

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