In partnership with the University of Chicago Medicine, IDEO designed a set of instructional signs and communications principles to help healthcare workers providing care for COVID-19 patients better understand how to protect themselves by properly taking on and off their personal protective equipment (PPE) while in a clinical setting. Proper procedures for donning (putting on) and doffing (taking off) PPE is a critical moment for healthcare workers, as it is the point at which they’re most at risk for self-contamination and exposure of the virus.
The 7 signs integrate three core design principles that emerged from our research with hospital staff. This human-centered approach highlighted a pressing need to provide healthcare staff the appropriate level of context and information in a high-stakes environment. The design principles are:
Align: Determine and promote the central source of accurate information.
In clinical settings, there is a wealth of knowledge and information shared across multiple channels, making it difficult for staff to get important timely information quickly. These signs seek to increase clarity and comprehension by simplifying and reinforcing the hospital’s single source of truth on safety.
Adapt: Change should not be a pain point.
More than ever before, people are trying to feel and act on their purpose, but change and complexity can lead to uncertainty and vulnerability. The signs build on familiar colors, symbols, and processes to ease behavior change while building consistency in a moment of great fluidity.
Amplify: Show understanding and continued empathy.
These circumstances increasingly require healthcare staff to protect themselves and others, but having to learn a new way of communication, working, and behaving can create anxiety and make it hard to focus. Additionally, the signs emphasize the importance of slowing down and pausing. A human-height, vertical sign reinforces safety messages for elevators or common areas.