Before Carilion Children’s Hospital, part of nonprofit organization Carilion Clinic, opened its pediatric care center in Roanoke, Va., patients often had to travel between several facilities to see their doctors, get X-rays, and pick up prescriptions.
The Carilion Children’s Tanglewood Center, which opened in October 2021 inside a former JC Penney site, combines multiple specialties, services, and amenities into one two-story, 128,000-square-foot building. It consolidates care while also providing an opportunity to reinvent the patient experience.
“We wanted everything to be high-tech to take us into the future,” says Jennifer Rotenberry, construction project manager at Carilion Clinic (Roanoke)
One way they achieved that is through a new interactive feature in the main waiting area, located behind a staircase that leads to the second floor. The healthcare organization realized that the nearly 800 people who visit the Tanglewood Center every day would be staring at the wall across from this staircase while waiting for appointments.
Recognizing an opportunity to do more, the healthcare organization decided to install an interactive “Social Butterfly” wall designed by Dimensional Innovations (Kansas City, Kan.), an experience design, build, and technology firm.
“They wanted a wow factor that was cheerful and welcoming and also provided a positive distraction to help people feel calm as they wait,” says Alex Divine, healthcare account director at Dimensional Innovations.
The butterfly in Carilion Children’s logo inspired the theme of the display, which consists of six vertically oriented television screens.
Using a touchscreen kiosk on the wall, patients can select a butterfly to color and then “release” it into the display. Kids can then watch their butterflies float across Roanoke-inspired landscapes while three motion-detecting cameras sense a user’s presence in front of the screen. This causes the digital insects to flock and form shapes on the screen near where the user is standing.
The display offers multiple ways for people to engage with the digital scenery, while providing a sense of calm and control—which can be particularly important for young patients who may not know why they’re coming in or how long they’re going to be at their appointment, Divine says.
“Creating your own character gives you that sense of control,” he says.
Furthermore, Divine says patients and visitors who don’t want to create a butterfly can still enjoy the display. “Even if you don’t engage with it at all, at least it’s a piece of artwork you can admire from afar. It helps provide that sense of calm,” he says.
Most importantly, the interactive feature had to be equally accessible to patients of every ability, age, and height.
“We wanted something that could be used by all patients,” says Rotenberry. “That’s why we oriented the hardware vertically and installed it about 18 inches off the floor, so the smallest kids and the tallest kids could all use it.”
Unveiled in early 2022, a few months after the Tanglewood Center opened, the digital display has been so well received by patients and families that Carilion Clinic is adding more interactive walls at some of its other facilities.
“I don’t see anyone just sitting there waiting,” Rotenberry says. “I see the children interacting using the new video wall.”
Brooke Bilyj is a national award-winning freelance writer and owner of Bantamedia, a content marketing, PR, and SEO firm in Cleveland. She can be reached at [email protected].