I love to ask CEOs the question, “What keeps you up at night?” The answer used to be “access to capital.” But in today’s healthcare reform environment, the answer I most commonly receive is “my hospital’s HCAHPS scores.” 

So if the C-Suite is concerned about HCAHPS scores, then healthcare planners and designers need to be concerned about HCAHPS scores as well.

©Larry Endicott

These measurable outcomes—when tied to reimbursement—challenge all of us to drive performance improvement and patient satisfaction. The solution lies with PEOPLE … an engaged caregiver; PROCESS … a systematic approach that drives quality; and PLACE … a built environment that is an enabler to patient, family and staff satisfaction. 

Connecting the built environment to improved HCAHPS scores will be part of the business model for healthcare design going forward. Firms that can show and link measurable results to project design will be the thought leaders in healthcare design. 

Two key points that relate to HCAHPS and the patient room are:

How clean is the room?

  • Cleaning a room and the appearance of a clean room can be integrally tied to appropriate washable finishes for floors, walls, and ceilings.
  • Floor plan configurations need to avoid acute and obtuse angles. Be mindful of the ability to clean all corners and surfaces.
  • All cabinetry needs tops or bulkheads, avoid horizontal dust-collecting surfaces. Use a solid surface material for countertops and shelves.
  • A respectful and pleasant housekeeping staff always makes a patient more comfortable.

Is the patient room quiet at night?

  • Creating a quiet room requires attention to detail with high noise reduction coefficient (NRC) ceiling products, sound insulated headwalls and patient entry doors that are as far away from the patient’s head as possible, which includes limiting the number of openings from the room to the corridor.
  • Avoid placing noise generators nearby the room, like internal and external equipment, equipment rooms and access points to the hallway. 

I will address inpatient environments and how they impact satisfaction and HCAHPS scores in future blogs. Other topics will include these environments:

  • The Patient Room—What is the patient experience?
  • The Patient Room—What is the family/visitor experience?
  • The Patient Room—What is the staff/caregiver experience?
  • Nursing Unit Corridors—Shhh. Why so much noise?
  • Family Retreat—It’s not just waiting anymore.
  • Staff Retreat—A happy caregiver is an engaged caregiver. 

Monte Hoover is a Principal at BSA LifeStructures and has over 30 years of professional planning and architectural design experience for healthcare campuses. Monte is a strong proponent of evidence-based design and helped create LifeStructures Metrics—the firm’s vehicle that links facility design to measurable outcomes. He is a nationally recognized thought leader in master planning and was named by HEALTHCARE DESIGN as one of the “Twenty People Making a Difference.” He can be reached at mhoover@bsalifestructures.com. For more information, please vist www.bsalilfestructures.com.