Five Need-to-Know Trends Shaping Healthcare Design

July 22, 2011
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Flowers, photos, and other amenities add a personal touch to patient rooms. Photo courtesy of Business Interiors by Staples. Hybrid furniture helps maximize space. Photo courtesy of Krug. Patient communication boards help personalize patient rooms. Photo courtesy of Peter Pepper Products Inc. Patient communication boards help personalize patient rooms. Photo courtesy of Peter Pepper Products Inc. Matching furniture sets add residential warmth to patient rooms. Photo courtesy of Business Interiors by Staples. Furniture with antimicrobial finishes inhibit the growth of microbes. Photo courtesy of Carolina Business Furniture. Waiting areas incorporating vibrant colors make the atmosphere more inviting. Photo courtesy of Business Interiors by Staples.
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As healthcare facilities today strive to create more responsive and needs-specific environments, innovative furniture and design techniques can play a transformative role. Facilities are finding that by converting traditionally stark, clinical interiors into functional, aesthetic, and positive spaces, they can improve patient satisfaction, facilitate healing, enhance visitor comfort, and even increase employee productivity.

The following five areas—priorities across many healthcare facilities today—are being shaped by furniture and design advances, enabling organizations to improve care quality while delivering a superior overall patient experience.

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Residential warmth

To support the connection between patients’ comfort and their therapeutic advances, forward-looking healthcare facilities are taking steps to imbue spaces with residential warmth. Borrowing from the "home away from home" aesthetic that has served the hospitality industry well, these facilities are now reducing environmental stressors—moving away from traditional clinical designs in favor of what is more familiar to patients. The ultimate goal is to create interiors that make patients feel as comfortable as possible while still providing an efficient care model.

To help achieve this goal, more healthcare facilities are incorporating patient room furniture collections, which include matching wardrobes, bedside cabinets, and headwalls—collectively creating a consistent look and reflecting the amenities and aesthetics in a typical bedroom design. The result should be for patients to then make a positive association between their home and the hospital room.

Patient room furniture collections come in a variety of styles that cater to different patient demographics and hospital aesthetics, while encompassing residential subtleties that put patients more at ease. This effect can be accomplished through the use of artwork, sophisticated color palettes, textures, noise reduction methods, and natural light.

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Comments

Personalizing Rooms

Healthcare Facilities have desired creating a more residential environment for patient rooms (less institutional) since the early seventies with limited success. The need for high use/cleanable surface materials always marginalized the effect. There has great progress in a more “hospitality” appearance in public areas with ambient light levels, great color schemes and a combination of textures, but ancillary areas and patient rooms can’t achieve the same effect with only great color schemes.

The best “improving the patient environment” results that I have encountered, involved a candle-light dinner and wine for mom and hubby in a special maternity room before leaving the hospital in Louisiana. Another example involved a hospital in Pennsylvania grilling steaks in the courtyard for the entire hospital on one Friday night each month.

Some cancer hospitals have made advances to improve views from patient rooms with roof gardens or well-designed visible courtyards/meditation gardens as visual comforts, but the other senses suffer stark reality.

At some point in the future, one would think that technology would either create a virtual reality illusion (glasses, earphones, and aroma) to transport the patient to a very pleasant environment or as an alternative, to create a “gamma-ray” that would make a patient room antiseptic regardless of stone fireplaces, shag rugs, and other residential furniture.

Personalizing rooms

I am surprised that a hospital would spend time and money "personalizing a room" for a patient who may only be there two or three days. I do recognize the expense is minimal compared to other services, but why expend the time and money, it is so superficial.

And as a consumer of Healthcare, and a person trained in the Lean Six Sigma process, I would not be willing to pay for the extra service for those amenitites. I will bring my own magazine with me and I am certain it will be more cost effective for me to do so. I would prefer that the hospital focus their resources on the quality of my care and not on something that provides no value to me.

I would love to know where the author of this article got the information.

PERSONALIZING ROOMS

I agree that "personalizing rooms" is a bit over the top. I have worked in a Healthcare facility for over 20 years and the more functional and cleanable a space is, the better.
The turnover time for a patient room is a big issue. Our cleaning staff is always being pushed to do more in less time.

Natural and artifical light, finish and funishing selections all play a part in creating a healing enviorment.....but Hospitals are not hotels or spas....and we should not forget the main purpose is deliver medical care in a clean and functional environment.

Nursing point of view

As Chief of Nursing for a large facility I’m pleasantly surprised to see an article that focuses on creating a positive emotional experience in our hospitals. I know it may be hard to grasp, especially if you’re not dealing with patients on a regular basis, but the personal touches not only help the healing process, it also creates a more fluid experience between the staff, the patients, and their families.

Article on Furnishings with no mention of where they came from

Healtcare Design Magazine I'm a little dissappointed that you'd publish an article about furnishings for this healthcare facility and not mention what a single peice of furniture shown in this article is. It's beyond frustrating to see a great chair and not be able to find who makes it listed anywhere. While the articles themselves are greatly informative the magazine is usually a great tool to find new products and services. I'm sorry but I think you dropped the ball on this one.

Re: Article on Furnishings with no mention of where they came fr

Hi Anonymous --

First of all, please understand that the Editorial material in our magazine is meant to be as vendor-neutral as possible. We do not want to present material that implies that we endorse one company's product over another and therefore we do go out of our way to avoid mentioning products by name outside of our Product Gallery section to avoid any appearance of bias. It's all about maintaining the integrity and impartiality of the Editorial department. In any case, it is our Editorial Policy and I assure you it is 100% intentional. There was no ball dropped here.

That said, if you take the time to read the captions under the photos here, you will see that they are in fact credited to the companies that provided them to us for publication. Intuitive readers should be able to figure out who made the chair in the photo that is labeled, for example, "Photo Courtesy of Krug."

Thanks.

Todd Hutlock
Editor-in-Chief
HEALTHCARE DESIGN