× You are not currently logged in. To receive all the benefits our site has to offer, we encourage you to log in now.

University of Wisconsin Cancer Center at ProHealth Care, Pewaukee, WI

June 2018
EDAC Advocate Firm Project
ProHealth Waiting Area, Craig Dugan Photography, January 2016


Firm's Role on the Project: To enhance the family, staff and visitor experience using a "whole person healthcare" approach. 

EBD Goal

Based on an understanding of the indoor and outdoor environments’ impact on health, the design goal of the project was to enhance the family, staff, and visitor experience using a “whole person healthcare” approach. The guiding principles used to achieve whole person health at this landmark cancer center were to empower the patient; use nature as a positive distraction; empower staff; and promote health.


The University of Wisconsin Cancer Center, a new three-level facility, houses a regional cancer center, multi-specialty ambulatory clinics, and an array of diagnostic and treatment programs. The facility is oriented to optimize natural light and landscape views in support of healing and rehabilitation, and dynamic finishes were selected to reduce the clinical monotony. The result—a cancer center designed from the inside out—is an important reminder that form doesn’t follow function; form follows experience.


A patient, over the course of treatment, will visit a cancer center more than 100 times. Given the emotions and stress that come with this schedule, ProHealth Care wanted to improve the patient experience by creating positive distractions through design.

The design team aimed to expand input from key staff members in the early planning stages. While most design processes incorporate interviews with a broad range of stakeholders and departments, the staff members who spend the most time with patients are often spoken to in isolation about the specific aspects of the project that relate to their role. The design team hoped instead to incorporate their feedback about the variety of ways they interact with patients in diverse environments throughout the building. The end result being to improve health outcomes in a setting that enables patients, families, and cancer survivors to better manage the life changes that come with a cancer diagnosis.


A patient advisory group including cancer survivors, current patients, and family members was assembled to provide input on the aspects of the care experience that were most important to them. To create a more patient- and family-centered environment, family zones were incorporated into infusion areas to include loved ones in the caregiving process. Larger treatment zones were designed to support more in-room procedures, and related services were co-located to facilitate multidisciplinary care. Nature was used as a positive distraction throughout the facility. Patients now have access to fresh air via operable windows. Treatment areas offer direct access to outdoor gardens and spaces where patients spend hours at a time, were oriented toward a scenic pond.

The “Whole Person Health Design Team” was made up of staff members who spend the most time with patients across multiple settings. Encouraged to draw on their vast experience to develop design concepts, the team created “multidisciplinary day suites”: adjoining exam and consultation spaces that allow patients to remain in a single location throughout consecutive appointments with specialists. The team also inspired the design of outdoor pedestrian walkways to give patients and staff the opportunity to decompress and connect with nature.

Design solutions intended to improve the work experience were incorporated. Staff was given access to personal spaces, lounges, and outdoor areas to help them de-stress, and natural light was maximized in work areas, offices, and staff lounges. New daycare facilities were a recognition of staff members’ family commitments.


Throughout the design process, current utilization, projected volumes, clinical quality metrics, and clinical and patient flows were collected and analyzed to determine the ideal model of care, as well as optimized future state flows. The design team worked closely with ProHealth to customize metrics for growth, fiscal stewardship, clinical quality, service excellence, staff alignment, and operations, and to track and monitor performance during the implementation phase.

Next steps at ProHealth Cancer Center include measuring the outcomes of the initial project goals. The evaluation will focus on three areas: clinical quality indicators, patient satisfaction, and financial return. Positive/negative and integrative well-being ratings will be included in future assessments to track clinical progress and or recovery from illness with treatment. Other project goals will also be measured by assessing patient and family satisfaction and efficiency, reduction in operating costs, staff attrition and recruitment.

While The Center believes that the information in this resource is valid, it has not fact-checked the information or tested any findings. The Center disclaims any warranties, expressed or implied, regarding this content.