The intelligent hospital and patient experience

The focus of this paper is on improving patient experience through privacy and infection control provided by Switchable Privacy Glass, otherwise known as "eGlass" –a term the dynamic glass industry has widely adopted for this technology.

eGlass is an asset in improving patient experience through controlled visibility and an advance in infection control.

We are seeing a growing awareness that patients are often frightened and/or confused in
urgent care settings. Managing the patient's experience in acute care is a unique challenge.

Intelligent Hospitals are seeing that their patients do better when they simply feel more confident, comfortable and informed in these emotionally charged environments.

Urgent care in the ER and ICU are, of course, highly specific and focused on rapid response – traditionally leaving patient privacy as a secondary or often unrecognized concern. However, as hospitals move toward patient-centric design, privacy has become a recognized opportunity.

Dr. Neil Halpern, MD, Chief of Critical Care Medicine at Memorial Sloan Kettering said:
the proper patient environment starts with privacy. The use of switchable privacy glass improves patient experience; substituting traditional curtains with eGlass provides discretionary privacy. This will often modulate the demands of acute care on staff by allowing them to monitor patients from a distance and/or without having to enter PT rooms.

Switchable Privacy Glass – Simple Technology

eGlass is a laminate which can be instantly and reliably switched from a clear state to opaque white. When powered, switchable glass allows unobstructed visibility into PT rooms. When the glass is in the unpowered state it will "frost"; providing complete privacy for procedures, exams and private consultations.

Switchable privacy glass can be controlled by a wall switch, motion detector or remote control.

Smart Deployment of Privacy Glass: an aspect of the Intelligent Hospital

Privacy glass simply replaces curtains in urgent care settings.
There are distinct advantages for a controlled experiential environment for diagnostic procedures, patient monitoring and implementing first lines of treatment. Patients in acute care markedly benefit from the use of switchable privacy glass as well.

Curtains are typically used to separate beds in the ER and ICU are generally ineffective in preserving patient privacy and can complicate infection control. While curtains offer simplistic privacy, they hinder visibility by staff and increase patient anxiety due to inherent isolation. Infection control is more difficult with curtains because hospital borne pathogens and contagious disease can be promulgated by the absorbent nature of curtain cloth. Infection Control routinely relies on repeated removal, cleaning and replacement of curtains.

Ordinary glass dividers, although they can be easily and frequently cleaned in situ, still require curtains or mechanical shades to achieve privacy, again creating a problem for infection control.

eGlass is a solution which eliminates the need for curtains in these areas of the hospital. Since it is a glass product; it can be cleaned like ordinary glass. Cleaning and sanitizing are easily done with a disinfectant and wiping it clear – offering fast and easier maintenance.

Curtains offer no sound containment for the patients, the laminated structure of eGlass does provide sound dampening, an obvious benefit for the PT patients and it can mitigate of distraction for staff. Sound dampening is a simple and effective way to reduce disturbing sounds from other patients; audible speech from staff and other patients during urgent care generally increases patients' anxiety.

Benefits with Switchable Privacy Glass (E-Glass)

Patients can experience a disturbing feeling of isolation in the ICU or ER; they typically feel safer having visual contact with staff. At the same time, patients also need privacy to rest comfortably and spend time with visitors in a private setting – eGlass provides both.

eGlass allows nurses, doctors or surgeons to be in control of visibility on demand.

Another positive example is in neo-natal units. The use of eGlass in the nursery allows viewing during visiting hours while staff can switch to a privacy mode for special care;
infants with special needs can also easily be visually segregated, as may be appropriate.

eGlass has a diverse range applications in the healthcare sector. The technology has solved numerous privacy and Infection Control concerns. Although initial costs will be higher than traditional curtains and blinds, the long-term and continuing benefits are cost-effective and tangibly improve overall patient experience.

EGlass has become a recognized feature of the Intelligent Hospital by augmenting both Patient Experience and Infection Control.

Mr. Rogin is a consultant for Innovative Glass Corporation, the leading developer and manufacturer of dynamic glass, and the premier supplier of Switchable Privacy Glass.
He has also been an industry consultant for Johnson & Johnson and a contributing author to the AORN Journal of the Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses.
He can be contacted by email at

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