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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In addition, informal lounges and/or café areas within lobbies and hallways can help make an entire healthcare facility more inviting, user-friendly, and convenient to visitors. Outdoor cafés and lobbies, in particular, provide visitors with a sanctuary to check their mobile phones and laptops, relax with a cup of coffee or a sandwich, and, overall, feel more at home.

These locations can be a welcome alternative to traditional seating areas that tend to inhibit interaction. In conjunction with patient room furniture collections and residential design influences, they exemplify a new, progressive model that is positively impacting the patient experience, visitor comfort, and staff productivity.

Personalized patient rooms

Taking design perhaps one step beyond residential warmth, healthcare facilities are increasingly attempting to personalize patient rooms—specifically for their individual inhabitants—as a means to further reduce patient anxiety and stress, while enhancing comfort and overall satisfaction. One way to accomplish this is through the use of pre-arrival patient surveys—inquiring into items such as a favorite magazine, favorite food, and/or favorite color—so patients then can walk into rooms customized just for them.

Many facilities are also leveraging patient communication boards, as well as more advanced digital signage, within patient rooms—personalizing the display with the patient’s name, the names of the doctors and nurses providing care, family photos, the latest news and weather forecasts, and more.

Thus, patients who walk into a hospital room—greeted by a customized message, their favorite magazine on the bedside table, and their favorite flowers on the windowsill—will immediately have a higher sense of comfort about their visit and, most importantly, about the care they will be receiving. Personalizing the patient experience in this way not only reinforces a patient-centered care model, but it also can turn an overwhelming clinical environment into a relaxing one—neutralizing the negative effects of stress and anxiety.

Perfect proportions

As healthcare facilities strive to increase levels of patient care and satisfaction, they also must accommodate the needs of patients’ families and visitors, as well as nurses, doctors, and other caregivers. In the face of ever-shrinking facility footprints, this can be a daunting task. Space is at a premium, and as facilities incorporate decentralized nursing stations and try to fit more storage and supply areas within units, it can become challenging to also utilize space to create comforting, personalized patient environments.

As a result, the scale and flexibility of patient room furniture is a vital factor in overcoming space constraints and their resulting limitations on hospital room design. There is now a variety of new, multipurpose furniture offerings for healthcare facilities to choose from, including sleeper sofas that incorporate solid-surface side tables with built-in data and electrical access, and with underneath storage compartments for linens and pillows.

The use of hybrid products, such as patient chairs that also serve as recliners, helps maximize space. These multipurpose and hybrid offerings are an effective way to increase patient room functionality using smaller-scale furniture—ultimately resulting in more spacious, aesthetic, and productive environments for patients, visitors, and caregivers.

Infection control

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Comments

I agree

Although a hospital is not a spa or a four star hotel, it is a place that one feels very vulnerable. Patience are putting their life in your hands. If they walk into a place that looks like fort knox, then not only feel stressed, which increases the liability that they will be there longer also they are made to feel they are in a place for sick people. Not a place for healing. A cold stale , scary room with tubes everywhere. The colors of a room matter. Clinical white should stay in the operating room. Having a personalized item that can be placed in the room and replaced goes a long way in the healing process. I want my body to relax, not feel like I am in Hospital jail. I create art that helps this process of healing making the experience a warm inviting and trusting place.

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

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