If you know where to look for healthcare products at NeoCon, you’ll find plenty of them.

The annual exposition of commercial furnishings, fabrics, flooring, lighting, and accessories held at The Merchandise Mart in June featured more than 500,000 square feet of showroom and temporary exhibit space. It’s a lot of ground to cover.

But, if you only have one day to spend at NeoCon like I did, you go for the gold.

By that, I mean look for the Gold Award winners in the healthcare categories of the Best of NeoCon product competition. Of the 46 healthcare products entered, only four took home the gold:

  1. Funnybone—a collection of fun “interactive” textiles for children’s environments from cf Stinson
  2. Grasscloth Collection—carpet from Tandus Flooring that brings a hospitality-like aesthetic to healthcare spaces
  3. Regard—a lounge seating collection from Nurture with 150 separate components that can be used to customize the healthcare waiting experience
  4. TouchPoint T7—a mobile technology cart from Humanscale that instantly adjusts to the user’s entered height

Another standout was the new Digital Glass Portfolio collection from Skyline Design, a company that makes glass artworks products for both the corporate and healthcare market. This product scored gold awards in the Surfacing Materials/Finishes and Wall Treatments categories.

Steelcase’s new Gesture chair won gold in the Seating: Ergonomic/Task category. Gesture is designed to support how we interact with laptops, tablets, smartphones, and other technologies—all of which are increasingly becoming part of the healthcare landscape.

Interestingly, a technology product from an office furniture company that won gold in Workplace Technologies also took Best of Competition. Haworth’s Bluescape is a digital collaborative workspace (software and hardware) that allows multiple users to communicate and share pretty much anything, anywhere, anytime.

While Haworth was demonstrating Bluecape’s robust uses at NeoCon to plan facilities, a product like this could easily be used in healthcare settings to communicate things like discharge information to patients or to conduct training with staff. Expect to see more of this type of technology to be introduced in the future, because it’s the future not only of healthcare, but also of many other industries where collaborative work is critical.

While attending NeoCon, I also heard Patrick Charmel, president and chief executive officer of Griffin Health Services Corp. and its subsidiary Planetree, do a short talk, sharing the story of how Planetree—a not-for-profit organization that supports an alliance of 150 hospitals that are committed to patient empowerment and the delivery of patient centered care—was founded.

I’d heard the Planetree story many times before, but was interested to hear Charmel talk about the growing consumerism of healthcare being fueled by the aging baby boomers and the shifting of the cost of healthcare from insurers to employees. This will put more emphasis on patient satisfaction, which is good for the patient-centered care movement. “We’ll need compassionate caregivers willing to engage patients,” Charmel said. 

It was a good way to end a long day at NeoCon.