Big QuestionsOur work related to complex challenges.

The Challenge

Establish Nemours as industry leader by creating an innovative, differentiated, and patient-centric experience.


A blueprint focused on guiding and supporting families through unique environments, integrated service moments, and market-differentiating spaces and tools.

Pediatric healthcare system Nemours provides primary, hospital, and clinic-based specialty care, prevention and health information services, and medical education programs in Delaware, Florida, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. When Nemours wanted to strengthen its brand, it faced two challenges: Empowered patients had more access to information and choice than ever before, and new players—alternative-care centers, retail-based care clinics, and urgent-care centers—were entering the marketplace, diverting market share.

Nemours approached IDEO for help in creating an innovative, differentiated, and patient-centric experience for a new hospital in Orlando, with the goal of establishing Nemours as a destination care provider and industry leader. Together, they identified and clarified both family needs and key experience touchpoints in the patient journey, resulting in the state-of-the-art-designed, 60-acre, $400 million Nemours Children’s Hospital in Lake Nona Medical City, Florida. “The design team’s approach to defining key moments in the patient journey was highly instructive,” said Dr. David Milov, chief of clinical informatics at Nemours. “They captured insights otherwise unavailable to us.”

A full-scale waiting lounge prototype helped test look and feel.

Concepts that were realized in the hospital’s final design include:

  • Care Team Room ID: Patients and families are introduced to each member of their care team to ensure continuity of care.

  • Floor Greeters: Concierge-like greeters welcome and orient families and answer questions.

  • Family Lounges: Private dining rooms have kitchenettes, so families can cook and eat together.

  • Emergency Department: Patients are greeted, sorted by medical condition, and immediately checked into rooms.

  • Patient Information Screens: Doctors and nurses can access patient information prior to entering an exam room to enable informed conversations and build trust.

  • Smart Bracelets: Personalized RFID-enabled bracelets keep track of the care team.

  • Smart Rooms: Triggered by the Smart Bracelet, Smart Rooms “welcome” the patient upon entry.

To arrive at these designs, IDEO sought inspiration via analogous kid-friendly environments, such as museums, schools, toy stores, and zoos. Designers also conducted in-context interviews with patients, parents, families, doctors, nurses, support staff, and outside physicians. One key insight that led to the final design: Patients and families came to Nemours with varied levels of experience—first-timers, occasional visitors, and those who were chronically ill—but the hospital treated them all the same.

To address these needs, the team created an experience blueprint focused on welcoming, guiding, and supporting patients and families through unique environments, integrated service moments, and market-differentiating spaces and tools. To test the look, feel, and value of the designs, designers built full-scale foam core prototypes of welcome stations, waiting lounges, and exam rooms.

Children can control the color of the lights in their hospital rooms.

The results appeal to patients, families, and caregivers. According to Dr. Lane Donnelly, Nemours chief medical officer, “all the amenities at Nemours focus not only on the child but their parents and families as well.”

The hospital won two awards at the International Interior Design Association’s 2013 Best of the Best Gala (Georgia Chapter), one for the Healthcare Design category and one for best overall out of all 11 categories. writer Shawn Bean noted, “Set amidst a wooded expanse of central Florida, with theme park roller coasters peppering the horizon, Nemours Children’s Hospital is arguably the new high water mark for pediatric care in the United States.”

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