Chemo to go, please!

Isabel Aagard






Let’s take chemo to go!

Imagine a patient’s relief after being permitted to receive chemotherapy treatments in the comfort of their own home. Together with medical staff at Rigshospitalet’s leukemia department, we have co-designed a coherent chemo-to-go experience for patients, relatives and staff. Through co-creation, we explored ways to mutually integrate the home and the hospital through designing digital as well as physical solutions. We have extracted the essential principles that create guidelines for designing a space where the medical staff can work efficiently while comfortable and patients can feel expected and become an active part of their own treatment. The project serves as an example of how design can make impactful change in the healthcare sector.

Workshop with nurses, patients and relatives
Prototyping a new cabinet for medical equpment
Sorting insights

What is home chemotherapy

Home chemotherapy has been developed and implemented at the Acute Leukemia Department at Rigshospitalet by nurse Katrine Fridthjof, through the initiative IdéRiget. It is a new form of treatment that allows patients to have their chemo “to go”, instead of staying at the hospital. The treatment consists of an IV-bag (intravenous therapy, liquid substances that can directly go into a vein) attached to an infusion pump (used to regulate the time and amount of fluid to enter the patient’s veins). This is all housed in a wearable “chemo bag” that the patient takes home. The chemotherapy goes into the patient's bloodstream through his or her Hickman catheter, which is a fine plastic tube inserted into a main vein. The duration of each treatment is individual but usually varies from a few hours to eleven days. Righshospitalet has had 100 patients undergo the new treatment. This has reduced the cost of 515 days in a hospital bed, which had a cost of 6000 DKK per day.

What home chemo treatment contains of

Design guide for treatment rooms

This design guide is a conceptual proposal developed specially for home chemotherapy. We have extracted 7 essential principles that create a mindset and guidelines for designing a space where the medical staff can work efficiently while comfortable and patients can feel expected and become an active part of their own treatment.

We present you with 20 possible solutions that have three different layers of implementation steps to cater to different economic possibilities for public hospitals.

Rigshospitalets entrance 5
The chemo to go room
1:1 prototyping
Voices that formed the room

Individual treatment kit

We discovered a need for the patients to be expected and for the nurse to be effective. During the home chemotherapy treatment, the patient goes to check-ups at the hospital about every third day. We experienced that the patients didn’t know why they should take their own blood samples. Hans Christian explained “The catheter is none of my business, I feel very comfortable that the nurses take care of that part of the treatment.” Maiken, nurse, explained that: “If a patient takes his or her own blood test, they have less risk of getting a blood infection, they get a better connection to their body and things like sexual activity returns quicker to the patients.” Lillian, relative, responded: “If we had known that, we would have done it”. A individual treatment kit, can function as an invitation to take part of one's own treatment.

Lotte, patient, taking her own blood samples
An example of a blood sample kit

Patient information website

When a patient is diagnosed, the doctor explains the patient’s specific diagnosis and then they tell the patient not to Google it. When talking to patients, we found out that most of them ended up googling at some point, simply because of curiosity. Lotte, patient, mentions a wish for “a platform with truthful information, perhaps with experiences from other patients.” She explained how some information found on a google search could contain horror stories, which is the reason the doctor advises not to use Google. However, having information approved by a hospital would feel more truthful to her. It’s not because the hospital didn’t give enough information to the patient. Many patients carried around a portfolio of all the papers they had received during their treatment. Which brings us to Hans Christian’s, patient, idea while showing us his portfolio:  

“Imagine if I could have this online, so I don’t have to carry it around all the time.”
Our stakeholders and cocreators