15 June 2018

Radboudumc and five SMEs from Gelderland have been awarded a grant of € 2 million from the Province of Gelderland (ERDF) to develop hospital rooms designed to have a healing effect on individual patients. The rooms will be set up according to each patient’s personal profile. This dynamic profile will determine the recovery program, in which games, scents, pictures and virtual reality will all play a part.

Surgeon Harry van Goor instigated this ambitious project, which uses the setting as the basic departure point for helping patients to recover from major surgery. So rather than pills, video projections, games and scents are deployed to aid recovery. Van Goor: “The normal medical treatment obviously continues too, but we think that the smart design of individual hospital rooms will also speed up recovery. The project is being carried out by Radboud university medical center and the Gelderland-based SMEs Relitech, Big4data, Yellow Riders, Centre4moods and Arbol Al, which are jointly investing another € 3 million.”  

Four important aspects

The project involved designing a smart, personalized, interactive, restorative system (IHS). Over-60s (the main category admitted to hospital) are given the opportunity to use the system to aid their own recovery. Van Goor: “Previous research identified four aspect that are crucial to recovery. Patients must be in as little pain as possible, have sufficient night rest, experience minimum stress and start exercise as soon as possible, in bed if necessary. We’ve shortened this to Relief, Rest, Relax and Recover: R4. The program is called R4HEAL, which you can read as Room for Heal.”

Woods or waterfalls?

How does the program work? Before a patient is admitted, a profile is compiled. Is he or she a morning person or an evening person (an important aspect in terms of the sleep pattern)? Are they easily stressed, do they have a high or a low pain threshold? This profile, updated with ongoing monitoring of the patient’s condition and reactions with sensors, provides personalized advice that can be used to select the right tools, such as health games and audio-visuals. Games can be used to distract from the pain and reduce stress levels. Depending on the patient’s personal preferences, images of woods, a waterfall or an idyllic beach can be projected onto the wall. 

Self-learning system

Van Goor: “An important part of the IHS involves using algorithms and artificial intelligence to predict the patient’s wishes. This self-learning system analysis enriches the personalized advice, while also building up more general knowledge that will benefit future patients.” 

Testing for use

The ERDF grant is intended to validate the effectiveness and efficiency of the system, so that hospitals can introduce it on the basis of its proven effects. Van Goor: “Radboud university medical center is not only a project partner for testing various parts of the healing rooms on volunteers, nurses and physicians in its own hospital setting, but is also keen to implement the concept in its planned new building if it proves to be effective.”


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