Redesigning the Second Floor Check-In of Lurie Children's Hospital to Provide Clarity and Control

Lurie Children's Hospital

Date: Mar - May 2019

Team Members: Ryan Callaghan


  • User Research

  • Rapid Prototyping

  • Human Centered Design

  • Ideating

  • Environmental Design

  • User Experience Design

  • Service Design

  • Insight Synthesis

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The Problem

Due to being located in the center of Chicago without much footprint, the reception for the hospital needs to be on the second floor. It also has multiple entrances and deals with over 4,000 patients and visitors passing through the front desk per day.


The Worst Case Scenario

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Anne & Charlie:

the Patient Experience

Anne has 3 kids and she was just told by her primary doctor, that her middle child, Charlie, has a heart problem. Through a referral, she is meeting with a doctor at Lurie Children's Hospital to get the initial scans.

Before getting to the hospital, Anne is supposed to register Charlie in Lurie's system with his previous medical records and insurance. 

On the way to the hospital, there are multiple Lurie Hospital branches, so just inputting "Lurie" on google Maps regularly leads people to the wrong hospital.

After making it into the city with 2 hours of driving with all 3 kids she struggles to find the parking lot as the entire first floor of the hospital is dedicated to the Emergency Department.

All documentation gets her to the second floor of the hospital, but not any farther. The signage in the parking lot is confusing and she is unaware of the upcoming check-in.

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The Layout

To understand the problems we face, you first need to understand the layout and the current experience in the space. The gallery here shows views moving around from the escalator entrance to the parking garage's entrance.

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Coming in from the parking garage slightly late, she is able to see the reception desk and the line forming behind it. There is an aquarium which the kids want to go look at and she lets them stay over there while she waits in line.

While in line, she sees several people cut and talk directly to the concierge to get badges or their parking pass validated. It adds to her agitation which is already heightened by not knowing what her kid needs, waiting weeks for the appointment, and now the risk of missing it.

She gets to the counter and they ask for the patient's name. She gives it, then has to wait for them to find it, wait for them to make a name tag, wait for them to validate her parking, and then she can finally go to her appointment.

She then has to check in up to 3 more times, depending on where else in the hospital she is going. Going into an already stressful situation, the entrance to the hospital increases the anxiety Anne feels.

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In order to relieve the patient's process, we knew we needed to 

Provide comfort through clarity, connection, and control

In order to do this effectively, we need to understand the job of the concierge and their journey.

Ruby: the Concierge

Ruby works 12 hours shifts as a concierge at Lurie Children's hospital and faces a number of challenges in her work day, most of which come from the desk where she sits.

First, the round desk means she can only see one direction, often times not at people in the line, meaning she constantly has to turn back and forth and raise her hand to indicate that she's free. Because the desk is round, she doesn't feel safe or secure, like anyone could approach her from any angle. Sitting down seems to also invite people to yell at her, and makes her feel vulnerable to people's anger.

Due to the small space, she feels cramped, and because she deals with hundreds of people per day, she has so many badges that she can’t put her legs under the desk. She also has to spend her entire Saturday shift resetting the badges to be used in the upcoming week.

Lastly, she regularly has people who are trying to get to the Emergency Department, waited in line, only to find out that they completely missed the entrance. This is because from either entrance the view is blocked by large pieces of coral or a support pillar.


Lurie Hospital's 2nd Floor

Check-In Redesigned


Coming from the escalator, as you can see, the circular desk blocks the emergency room. In the redesigned space, the center pole is used as a wayfinding tool with the red line running from the parking garage to over the emergency room door.


We also added a bench and plant wall along the side. This way, people have to turn before making it to the elevator bay, making it more likely for them to see the reception desk and get in line.

Using plants and increasing seating should also help absorb some of the sound in the space, as it has a tendency to echo.


The security guard, who normally floats next to the elevators, now would have a desk, so that he can be more approachable, but could still stop people from entering the elevators without a badge.

The donor wall was also moved. Currently it is against the window and the majority of the natural light entering in the space. By removing it, the space becomes significantly lighter and less stressful. We added seating around the wall to make it a space patients sit by, thereby increasing it's likelihood to be read. This was the main concern raised when considering moving the donor wall.

When approaching the space from the parking garage, once again the new red emergency room strip clearly leads patients to the emergency room, increasing the clarity of how to move through the space. Below you can see the difference between the space when we moved the coral in front of the aquarium. Seating can be here instead of the coral to keep it an interactive space, but decreasing the clutter dramatically increases the clarity of the space.


When it came to designing the desk, the concierges needed to have enough space. Each concierge has 6 feet of desk space, with 3 feet at standing desk height and 3 feet at sitting desk height. This way, they can still interact with kids and people in wheelchairs easily, but also be able to stand and move around in their job. 

The desk has barriers between each station to block people from hearing other people's private information without blocking the concierge's view of each other. Their own concierge community is important for them and would be maintained in the newer space.

The standing portion of the desk would also be made out of a matte glass similar to the material on the 11th floor. This would also glow to indicate to the next person in line that they can approach. 


The line was purposefully designed to be created with stanchions, because it is easily understood and also removable for events in the space.

There is an extra row of cabinets that provide additional storage for badges.


Lastly, another team designed a self check-in desk. This other team made their design to fit in the circular desk. We wanted to make sure that we incorporated their work into layout, so the desk continues to have the self check-in space right next to the regular desk. Here, a concierge could float from station to station and help those who need it.


Thank you so much to our project sponsor, Barbra Burke and Lurie Children's Hospital!


Also, a huge thank-you to my project partner Ryan Callaghan