Case Study: Kameda Medical Center

How the group’s flagship hospital puts patients first by creating a space that feels like home

Kameda Medical Center and Clinics bring all the benefits of its 380-year history to medical caregiving; this, coupled with a progressive attitude makes for a powerful combination. It is Kameda’s culture, state-of-the-art medical services and facilities, and its patient-first attitude that have made them so popular. The group’s hospitals and clinics routinely top the polls in Japan, and across Asia. Every day, Kameda Medical Center receives some 3,000 outpatients from all over Japan, as well as the world.

Located in a scenic and underpopulated area on the coast of Chiba prefecture, Kameda Medical Center is one of the group’s most impressive facilities, offering emergency care, a sports medical clinic, psychiatry department and family medicine alongside neurosurgery, spinal surgery, cardiovascular surgery and an oncology department, among many others.

Patients first

Aside from its many specialties and its unique Western and Oriental medicine offerings, Kameda is known for its ‘yes’ philosophy and patient-first outlook. Patient empowerment and patient-centered care are at the heart of the way this hospital operates. Kameda Medical Center offers private rooms; a care team for each patient; round-the-clock visiting hours wherever possible; accommodation for family and other visitors; plus high-tech and high-touch patient environments.

“A hospital is an unusual place for many, far removed from the daily run of life. We have made an effort to create a hospital environment that would feel more ‘home-like’, enveloped in a healing, warm and assuring atmosphere,” says Dr. Shinsuke Kameda, Hospital Director of Kameda Medical Center and a member of the 11th generation of Kameda physicians. “We believe that, by creating a more home-like environment, it is possible to reduce unnecessary stress levels born from the uniqueness and anxiety-inducing nature of the hospital setting, thus allowing for more focus to be directed to the patient's treatment.”

To create a more home-like atmosphere, Kameda created spacious, comfortable, private patient rooms, all with windows and plenty of natural light. “It is only natural for people, when they are going through hard times, to want familiar company by their side. We believe that by offering an environment (private rooms) where our patients can freely meet with whomever they wish, the patients will not only benefit psychologically, but will also benefit in terms of their treatment,” says Dr. Kameda.

Prioritising caregivers

As well as ensuring patients are happy, Kameda’s approach considers the happiness and comfort of the patient’s caregivers. “It is our foremost premise that a patient can be best supported by a cheerful carer,” affirms Dr. Kameda.

Furniture that supports cheerful caregiving

To keep caregivers happy, Kameda Medical Center introduced the SleepOver Seating from Herman Miller Healthcare. The SleepOver Seating shifts from comfortable sofa into a single bed with ease: simply pull out one arm and the lounge instantly converts into a 25- by 78-inch sleep surface. It also features built-in storage, allowing for the storage of bedding and other items.

In our endeavour to find a suitably comfortable and excellently designed sofa bed that could be used by carers who wish to spend the night by a patient, we settled on the SleepOver Seating. At that time in Japan, there were hardly any household furniture that were specially designed to be used in healthcare environments. Consequently, we ordered in the Seatings from North America,” says Dr. Kameda.

It turns out the SleepOver Seating was a good choice: patients and caregivers regularly use the sofa, as well as turning it into a bed at night. “We are pleased that the furniture that we installed with a view to allowing patients to have guests whenever they please is being used to this effect. We believe that carers and guests are benefiting from the ease with which they can use our home-like furniture, as they do not need to deal with tiresome processes,” says Dr. Kameda.

Home-like public spaces

Kameda’s patient-and carer-first philosophy also comes through in their public spaces. “There is a dining space fitted out with dining tables and cupboards where patients, whose diets are not medically restricted, can feel as if they are enjoying a family meal back at home,” explains Dr. Kameda. “There is also a spacious lounge space where patients may enjoy quiet conversations. There are lounges with a good view on each ward floor. Moreover, the lounges and hallways have all been carpeted.”

Creating a supportive, flexible workspace for hospital staff

While Kameda Medical Center puts patients first, they also want staff to enjoy their work and have created friendly, highly functional staff areas that are easy for nurses, doctors and other staff to operate in.

It is with this in mind that the centre introduced Ethospace Nurse Station, a versatile, adaptable workstation from Herman Miller. Three different connection options – 90-, 120- and 135-degrees – allow Ethospace to be arranged in a variety of different ways, depending on how and where Ethospace is being used – whether that’s as a place for nurses to update charts and physicians to enter orders, a reception, a nourishment area for staff. Ethospace also comes with tiles and screens that can be shifted around to create privacy where it’s needed.

For Dr. Kameda, it’s about creating a space in which staff can get great satisfaction from their work, and he believes staff also benefit from Kameda Medical Center’s home-like settings for the same reason. “We believe our staff can take more pride in their work, knowing they haven’t indulged in this excuse that a hospital can never change its atmosphere, instead knowing they have devised numerous clever implementations to make the spaces more home-like.”

For patients and their families, meanwhile, the home-like vibe at Kameda Medical Center makes a world of difference. “Many of them have been greatly surprised to find that our hospital is more like a hotel,” says Dr. Kameda. In a world filled with cold, unfriendly hospitals, Kameda Medical Center is a refreshing and welcome change, and one that sets a strong example internationally.