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Circles of Care
Improving the hospital experience by empowering the patient's social network

Circles of Care


knowledge Mapping In-depth interviews
Concept and testing

Background: Hospitals and patients relationships

Hospitalization is generally considered a negative experience. People's descriptions of their hospital experiences ranged from the boring to the traumatic. When in hospital, people are in a delicate situation; they feel vulnerable and they are heavily dependent on their circles of care. While hospitalized people are kept from their everyday activities, comforts and freedoms - one could say that they are switched off.

This project should empower the patient to remain switched on even while hospitalized.

Role of technology in future hospitals

Technology has enabled us to:

  • manage our time in a more flexible way
  • work and socialize with greater mobility
  • receive information and media on demand
  • be permanently connected to family and friends

In contrast, when a person is hospitalized he is taken out of his \ her everyday environment. He is disabled. The problems the hospitalized person might be facing are:

  • being away from work
  • being away from family and friends
  • low energy levels \ pain \ handicaps
  • lack of control (time management, mobility, your body, recreation)
  • limited access to information
  • restricted communication
  • general disconnection to the outside

Some of these issues could be adressed by the hospital of the future. Experts predict that hospitals will undergo major restructuring in the next 10 years. Contributing factors will be:

  • changing doctor–patient relationships
  • the increase in pressure to move patients through the system
  • the increasing number of older patients with complex conditions
  • safety issues

In order to cope with these issues, hospitals will start decentralising some of their responsibilities to other circles of care (community health clinics, home doctors, patient's home). The patient will be the focus of an efficient information flow as he\she is passed through this networked system of care-givers. This efficient information flow will rely heavily on upgraded telecommunication.

As the healthcare system aims at greater efficiency due to financial pressures, patient-centred service provision will be paramount in order to achieve a continuum of care for the patient. This will be a challenge, as service provision in current hospitals is poor.


We have already mentioned the pressures on hospitals to operate more efficiently in an effort to process patients faster. We have also mentioned the role of patient-centred services in order to make the patient's experience as smooth as possible.

As hospitals are feeling the financial pressures of underfunding, positive patient-experiences could become the distinguishing factor in a competitive market.

Next: Research