Summer Research Dispatch: Haripriya Sathyanarayanan on Spatial Perception of the Pediatric Built Environment

15 Aug, 2020

Summer Research Dispatch: Haripriya Sathyanarayanan on Spatial Perception of the Pediatric Built Environment

Each year, the Berkeley Center for New Media is thrilled to offer summer research awards to support our graduates in their cutting edge work. Below, Haripriya Sathyanarayanan describes how she used the funds for research on spatial perception of the pediatric built environment.

Healthcare is witnessing sweeping transformations of digital technologies transforming care delivery, patient experience, operations and management, and hospital design. Designing healthcare environments is specifically challenging with its complex technology-intensive environments, ever evolving interaction between people and the environment, and conflicting needs of the different stakeholders, with the greatest challenges in healthcare being centered at the human level and growing emphasis on patient experience (PX). The pediatric world and children’s hospitals are special places with our most innocent and vulnerable patients, with an enhanced role for the physical environment to address the pediatric experience by offer a welcoming and supportive environment to improve patient experience. Healthcare experiences of a patient are largely driven by clinical outcomes, their interactions with healthcare providers, and their perceptions of care, with an emerging trend in healthcare design and delivery being the new way of listening to people – clinicians, patients and all stakeholders in a healthcare system, referred to as ‘patient engagement’, ‘participatory care’ and ‘human centered design’ (HCD) approach; a model for innovation that involves the people affected by solutions we are creating in the process of creating them. The study engages with the children, young people and parents during hospitalization in healthcare facilities and hear their voices and perceptions on spatial design and design of the physical environment to meet their needs. With immersive virtual environments (IVEs) showing promise for environmental design research using head mounted displays, the study proposes to use IVE in the design workflow as a collaborative design tool for systematic evaluation of alternative design configurations of patient spaces and study user experience.

Summer 2020

The plan for summer was to complete the virtual reality proof of concept (VR-POC) for the inpatient room layouts and experience, and to conduct a pilot study with non-patients to test out prototype and experiment design before the field study in a healthcare setting. With the Covid-19 crisis and restrictions on human subject research, data collection has been currently been put on hold.

I modified my summer plans to focus on aspects of the study that could continue in this situation like preparing content for all the different studies, testing, finetuning and IRBs so data collection could begin when restrictions lifted. I worked on the VR-POC for the baseline models, created alternative design configurations for the inpatient room, experiment design, IRBs and began data collection for the qualitative study.

• Phase One-Engagement with domain experts: the data collection is ongoing with online interviews with experts in my research domain, transcription and coding to identify themes relevant to the research

• Phase Two-Perceptions and Needs of Children, Young People, Parents and Staff in Healthcare Settings: The IRB application was made and approved in summer for the study to establish needs of the population from spatial design of the inpatient room. The data collection is pending and planned for Q1 2021 due to the COVID-19 visitor restrictions in the hospital. It was earlier planned to begin end of summer.

• Experiment Design: The IVE experience will be integrated with bio-analytics using head-mounted display (HMDs) with eye-tracking and biosensors for neurophysiological responses to the IVE. The proposed biosensors for the study are electrodermal activity (EDA) which measures variations in skin perspiration, and electrocardiograms, which measure heart-rate variability (HRV).

The BCNM award of $1000 is used for procurement of a bio-analytics platform and a consumer grade wearable for tracking HR – namely the Cognitive3D analytics licence (eye tracking, user position, heart rate and user actions) and the Fitbit Inspire HR Fitness Tracker. The objective was to test the sensors and integration with the POC along with the analytics. The summer research is ongoing, and I will continue to finetune the VR experience with a HTC Vive Pro Eye that will include eye tracking information, with the neurophysiological responses from the wearable and data analytics using the cognitive3D platform. The balance ($350) will be used to purchase wearables for the kids. The wearables identified are the Polar H-10 heart rate monitor and Fitbit for kids for use in the field study.

I am very grateful to BCNM for the grant, as it has made it possible for me to procure software and equipment critical for my research and experiments.