Better coverage? MedStar tests new hospital gowns

WASHINGTON — MedStar Health is giving some of its patients a little better coverage — and comfort — while it tests out newly designed hospital gowns.

MedStar recently co-hosted a startup challenge with D.C. incubator 1776. One of the companies to emerge as a winner in the quest to advance consumer-friendly health care innovations was Care+Wear, a New York-based company founded in 2014 that’s focusing on the “healthwear” industry.

The company’s hospital gown addresses many of the shortcomings of what’s been stripping the dignity from hospital patients for decades.

The traditional gown “provides very little privacy. Often the back is flapping in the breeze and you’re exposing yourself,” Dr. Mark Smith, chief innovation officer of MedStar Health, told WTOP.

“Most importantly, it makes a patient feel diminished,” he said.

Care+Wear’s patient gown addresses the modesty and comfort of the patient, while also improving the access to various regions of the patient’s body physicians need.

“It feels like a robe. It really feels substantial. As opposed to feeling like a nobody, you feel like a somebody. It’s very easy to put on. It’s very easy to tie,” Smith said.

“The nice thing from a physician perspective is that, because of the way the snaps are arranged, it’s very modular,” he said.

The patient gown also includes pockets for patients’ personal items, another level of comfort traditional gowns strip away.

Care+Wear said the gown combines five different types of patient gowns — IV access, maternity, telemetry, bariatric and gowns for bedridden patients — into one design, which not only increases patient comfort, but reduces costs for hospitals.

MedStar is testing the gown at MedStar Montgomery Medical Center in Olney, Maryland, and is evaluating its broader use throughout MedStar’s system of 10 hospitals and multiple clinics across the D.C. region.

That is a big audience just at MedStar. In fiscal 2017, the hospital estimates there were 678,300 patient experiences, or patient encounters, that might have included gowns.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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