Hospital Touch Bar

The subject of this group project was door handles, and how they are utilized in different ways depending on the user type. We decided to look at door handles in hospital environments to see if a design change could influence or even improve the ways in which medical staff and patients interacted with the passage space.


While researching hospital environments, we noticed several push operated touch bars that had been modified by the staff using material scavenged from the surrounding environment (foam, gauze, tape, etc).

These kinds of modifications indicated to us that the push bars were not currently meeting the needs of their users. We focused on creating a design that would optimize a touch bar for the hospital environment. Our goal was to adapt the modifications the staff had made to the touch bar into a more sanitary form whose design was more deeply informed the needs of its users.

Our main research methods included observation, situational testing/simulation, and analysis of the major user groups involved in utilizing touch bars within hospital environments.

To define the features of our touch bar, we studied how different types of workers move through the hospital environment. Doctors, nurses, and patients had a tendency to approach the touch bar in different ways depending on what they are carrying.


Additionally, we looked at how patients on stretchers are transported throughout the hospital environment, and used the patterns associated with their movement to better inform our new touch bar design.

Our updated touch bar design incorporates a textured, rubberized surface into the corner area that had the most body contact with users. Steel is used in other areas for ease of cleaning.


The modified shape extends the bar so that the overall function is more accessible to hospital workers, patients, and those transporting gurneys.



Medical Design, Product Design, Product Research