The past 25 years have seen extraordinary changes in patient room design. In the recent past, patient rooms were viewed as dormitories with multiple beds and strangers sharing the same space—and possibly infections. Little care was given to aesthetics, patient privacy or comfort.

But a greater emphasis on the patient experience and safety has influenced patient room design, creating a more positive environment for patients and streamlining work processes for caregivers. As the Federal healthcare bill moves through the legislature, the healthcare industry may anticipate further changes impacting facility design.
I recently had an interesting conversation with Gary Nyberg, RA, one of the leaders in our Healthcare practice group. We talked about the factors that have influenced patient room design and he noted five changes in the past 25 years: Private rooms The shift from shared to private patient rooms has had a positive impact on the healing process by giving patients a stronger sense of control. Private patient rooms themselves have grown from an average of 160 square feet to 220 square feet in response to more codes, safety issues and in-room medical services.
Electronic medical records The movement toward electronic medical records is making it easier for caregivers to share information and avoid error. Current federal legislation will continue to accelerate the paperless development with funding directed toward implementation of computerized medical records.
Safety Such in-room features as a nurse’s hub, medication dispensing and electronic charting have contributed to greater patient outcome. In addition, private rooms have helped lower the rate of infection between patients and offered greater opportunity for more face-time with caregivers.
Family accommodations “We look at the family as an extension of the care-giving process,” Nyberg says. This means creating such family spaces as sleeping areas, built-in entertainment features, and work stations with internet access so family members can remain close during recovery.
Healing environment Natural light, warmer colors, views to nature, appealing finishes, better-designed private bathrooms and other hospitality-inspired features offer a more inviting, less sterile setting.
These changes—and others—will continue to drive patient room design as we balance efficiencies, budgets and outcomes in an evolving healthcare climate.