Responding to demands for improved patient experience as well as enhanced functionality, the Ascend Patient Recliner with Vertical Lift delivers on all fronts. The unique offering from Krug, both an exam table and recliner, was heralded by jurors in the 2018 Nightingale Awards. It earned three awards in total, including Gold in the Furniture: Clinician Support category, an Innovation Award, and the sought-after Best of Competition prize.

Its success lies in the usability and comfort it brings, offering a flat sleep/exam surface that supports prone, lithotomy, supine, and elevated sit positions, eliminating the necessity for separate furniture pieces within the confined exam room environment—supporting care delivery in as little as 150 square feet. It also reduces the need to transport patients to multiple locations within a facility or between chair and exam table.

Additionally, Ascend features a 400-pound weight capacity and single pendant control accessible by user and caregiver to control both the back and ottoman, while options include single or dual transfer arms and a power/USB outlet. “It meets a big need in the healthcare market. I’m impressed with all the thought put into it and all the options and use of the chair,” one juror noted. Complementing its functionality is a design aesthetic that skews away from an institutional look to achieve a clean and contemporary style.

Healthcare Design spoke with Cesar Fernandes, director of product development at Krug and one of the product designers, about the design process and how current healthcare trends and client demands shaped the end result.

Healthcare Design: What did clients express to you concerning their needs in the clinic/outpatient setting that inspired a new response to the exam chair/table?
Cesar Fernandes: Clients were looking for the multifunction performance of an exam table or exam chair but without the clinical aesthetic that was offered with existing solutions. For the patient, comfort was essential considering the opportunities for extended periods of sit or rest. For the caregiver, the chair had to support safe and easy patient handling and positioning. [Clients were seeking a way to provide] a better patient experience and offer the above points in a relatively small caregiving space.

Describe your design process.
We were able to leverage our extensive experience in already having developed a range of recliner solutions for the healthcare market. Prototypes were evaluated by industry focus groups that included a variety of disciplines and experiences to support and validate the design direction. ADA best-practice guidelines for exam tables and exam chairs were factored into the design, and our engineers worked closely with suppliers in developing unique mechanical solutions to support the chair’s multifunctionality.

The Ascend recliner allows a variety of caregiving and treatment functions to take place in the same space rather than requiring the transfer of patients. Why was that so important to achieve?
Ascend reduces the risk for patient falls and caregiver injury from assisting patient transfers, by minimizing the need to move patients to alternate areas within the room or facility. There can be times that the condition of the patient might limit the ability for movement.

What needs do you see this answering in urgent care and emergency department environments, as well?
Ascend’s versatility adapts well to smaller urgent care centers and can contribute in supporting a more comfortable patient experience. If a patient needs to be moved to another location within the department, Ascend’s portability contributes nicely to that effort.

This recliner is highly functional, but also delivers a sleek aesthetic. How did you approach the overall look?
In contrast to existing exam solutions, we set out to create a warm and inviting aesthetic that was more consistent with lounge furniture than clinical equipment. We looked at tailoring details that factored patient comfort in a modern form but with consideration for infection control and serviceability. Features like the open-profile arm rest are functional in assisting with patient transfer or ingress/egress yet become a key design detail that helps convey the chair’s overall contemporary form.

What practical challenges of use did you also have to consider in the design?
The increased functionality tested our ability to maintain our core healthcare features that address cleanability and infection control with new systems for component serviceability. In making sure Ascend works well with other healthcare products, such as over-bed tables and patient lifts, it was designed with generous clearance below the unit, challenging the engineers to make the most out of some very tight spatial constraints. We specifically designed Ascend to be able to offer standard options that are available on our other recliners used in healthcare so that facilities can select optional features specific to their needs.

What needs did you hear from customers regarding patient experience, specifically, and how does Ascend answer those?
Comfort was high on satisfying patient experience needs, so finding the right balance of ergonomics and cushioning that would work in both seated and exam modes was a key focus. Auxiliary options like power units in the arms to allow patients to charge/use personal electronic devices further support the overall experience. Customers continue to seek functional products that don’t have a clinical look and feel, so Ascend was designed with a beautiful aesthetic along with comfort for long-term sitting.

Do you see this as part of a trend going forward, in terms of customer demand for solutions that answer multiple needs in one product?
We’ve definitely seen the trend and continue to develop products that offer increased flexibility to both the user, caregiver, and facility. There’s a trend in offering care in many off-campus settings, too, whether it’s in medical office buildings, physicians practices, surgery centers, malls, etc., that offer limited space, time, and budgets. Being able to answer multiple needs in one product affordably is important.