A Graves New World In Healthcare?
With the launch of its new Prime TC wheelchair last week, the creative partnership of medical technology company Stryker and architect Michael Graves took the next step in Graves’ mission to improve healthcare design. The Prime TC certainly looks “Gravesian”—simple lines, rounded forms, almost playful (if you can say that about a wheelchair). Stryker isn’t releasing any data on pre-orders or sales expectations, according to CNBC, but the higher-priced chair is designed to be more comfortable and user-friendly, as well as very durable.
Graves’ impact on the design world is undeniable, from his influential postmodernist buildings all the way through his housewares lines for Target and JCPenney. (Hitler teapot, anyone? It’s been a big couple of weeks for Graves!) Whether you think he’s a genius, or kitschy, or both, you have to give Graves credit for applying his personal experience to his craft, vociferously advocating for more patient-centered design.
Graves and Stryker kicked off their partnership with an announcement at the 2009 Healthcare Design Conference, where Graves delivered a keynote that included his assessment of the healthcare facility landscape in the aftermath of an infection that left him paralyzed from the chest down in 2003. He’s always been very candid in this regard, taking facilities to task for wheelchair-unfriendly corridors, patient rooms, and bathrooms. Having designed a line of patient-room furniture with Stryker in 2010, not to mention several healthcare-related buildings, Graves is putting his money (actually, his talents) where his mouth is.
Fortunately, he’s nowhere near alone on the patient-focused road he champions. Some of his biggest issues with acute care facilities—the need for larger patient rooms, for instance—are becoming de rigueur in the design community, for a number of reasons. The Affordable Care Act and HCAHPS scores have put the patient front and center in shaping both care practices and the buildings in which they occur.
So we’re getting somewhere, and I think it’s important to acknowledge the progress that’s been made already. Kudos to Graves for continuing his mission—and kudos to the countless other architects, designers, and owners doing the same.