Diane von Furstenberg Makes Over Hospital Gowns

Diane von Furstenberg creates her signature wrap for the Cleveland Clinic

Who says hospitals aren’t glamorous? The next time you go for a doctor’s visit, you could get examined in a gown created by fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg. A hospital gown, that is.

In 2005, under the direction CEO Toby Cosgrove, the Cleveland Clinic decided to give the detested old gowns, which resemble oversized bed sheets with shoelaces, a much-needed makeover.

Though the traditional back-less gowns are unsightly to be sure, the hospital’s main concern was for their patients’ mental and physical comfort. You know the gown’s biggest downside: Overly ventilated in the rear, affording everyone behind you a non-stop peepshow. When you don’t have to leave the confines of your private exam room, it’s fine. But for people who stay in the hospital for extended periods, they’re forced to do a walk of shame every time they leave their beds. Not the best morale booster when you’re trying to get well. After hearing patients’ complaints about feeling on display, the hospital decided it was time to give the revealing robes the boot.

Top hospitals like the Cleveland Clinic are putting more energy than ever into improving a patient’s experience while under their care. Research shows that people who are more satisfied with their treatment make better patients. They are more willing to adhere to their doctors’ recommendations, which usually leads to better health outcomes. “Delivering quality healthcare requires not only skilled medical expertise, but also an environment that promotes healing,” explains Jeanne Ryan, R.N., executive liaison at Cleveland Clinic and head of the redesign. “Patients were often uncomfortable in the traditional open-back, one-size-fits-all option. It’s unattractive and patients felt exposed.”

Patient-focused care is also good business. Patients who leave happy and on the mend are more likely to stick with their doctors and recommend them to others. They’re also less likely to sue if something goes awry.

When they tapped von Furstenberg to help with the redesign, the Cleveland Clinic had several requirements: The gowns needed to be comfortable for patients to wear, provide dignified coverage, allow easy access for medical examinations and meet the needs of patients who are either bed-ridden or up and about.

Ryan unveiled the prototype at the hospital’s Empathy and Innovation Patient Experience Summit in May. Since then, the Clinic has been outfitting its patients in the new von Furstenberg hospital gowns to assess how well they work in a real hospital setting.

Though definitely not couture, the new gown is based on von Furstenberg’s iconic wraparound- dress (no more peepshow!) and is even reversible. It also includes an elastic waistband and a wide V-neck in the front and back for stethoscopes and other chest- or back- monitoring devices. The only complaint they’ve received so far? According to Ryan, some of the male patients have found the color of the robes a little too feminine for their taste.

All in all, the Cleveland Clinic’s hospital gown redesign provides just one more way residents can be Hot in Cleveland.

Are you glad to see that the traditional hospital gown is getting a makeover? Chime in below.

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