Having worked for more than 25 years creating new ways of working, its no surprise for us to be asked to support a wide range of organisations. In an earlier blog post I wrote about our daily domestic lives being supported by our activity based developed homes, which helps explain the ABW philosophy on a very familiar and every-day level. So what if we were to start talking about activity based developed hospitals? In 2002, we were asked to do just that… to support the development of a flexible hospital environment that would aid recovery and set a new vision for healthcare. In light of this, we’d like to share:

    How can ABW be applied to a hospital?

  • What does it mean in real life?

How can ABW be applied to a hospital?

To give you a bit of background, the CEO of the hospital in question had been asked to build a hospital fit for the 21stCentury. A hospital that would stand the test of time and stop the flow of patients leaving The Netherlands to get treatment in Germany and Belgium.

Having been advised to work with a consultancy firm that was outside of their industry, but had a strong reputation of being a thought-leader, the CEO chose to work with us at Veldhoen + Company, the originators of the philosophy of Activity Based Working. Considering this philosophy can be applied to any kind of organisation, why not apply it to a hospital?

The context may be different but we can still characterise each medical specialism by the same generic activities such as:

  • Consulting
  • Diagnosing
  • Treating
  • Nursing

The logistics for most of the specialisms are the same too, and by combining the same needs from each of the different specialisms, we were able to work with the leadership team to create the vision for their new care concept. Through the aspiration to create a hospital that is all about the patient we were able to help develop a concept for the physical building, from sketch to realisation, all the way through how this would be reflected in the behavioural and virtual environment. Not only to enhance the patient experience but also give the teams of medical staff flexibility in how they worked. To help achieve this significant change in behaviour, we also implemented and managed a tailored training programme. Creating an earth-shattering program of work, and a complete transition to a new way of working in a hospital.

What does it mean in real life?

  • The patient is the guest at the hospital. They stay in their own private room, with private facilities, creating an environment where privacy and tranquility are guaranteed, just like home. The patient dictates what they want to eat and when.
  • The room is also fully equipped to make the stay as comfortable as possible, with space for his/her partner to stay overnight.
  • The Specialists come to the patient, armed with all of the patient’s information, which is available independent of time of place via an integrated information management system.
  • The Specialists collaborate out of one shared fit-for-purpose back office.
  • The patient is central to the care process, with all necessary medical staff and specialists within reach and at the disposal of the patient.
  • Smart technology applications enhance the quality of the stay, and optimize the care process.
  • In addition to their private facilities, living room areas are available and shared for every 10 patients, and separate bathrooms for each 2 living areas.

A Fascinating Journey; Transforming a Hospital Culture

It was a hugely fascinating journey to be on, and one which we are very proud of. Not only in transforming a hospital culture to a completely new way of working but also in helping to set a new standard for healthcare. After opening, the hospital saw the flow of people leaving The Netherlands reduce, and its admissions to the hospital increase by over 5% within the first few months. Which just continued to grow.

But are you surprised? Being ill and having to be in a hospital is bad enough. So why wouldn’t we make it as inviting, comfortable, and as natural a place to be, as our activity-based developed homes?

If this has sparked something to share, let us know. Or if you’re interested in reading more, check out some of our recent posts such as ‘3 Misconceptions I wish everyone knew about ABW’ or as mentioned at the start, ‘ABW and our analogy with the house’.

For more about this project please contact

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The four phases of Activity Based Working