Trends in Patient Unit Design
In my last blog, I spoke with HGA colleague Gary Nyberg, RA, about the changes he has seen in patient room design over the past 25 years. Many of the same developments impacting the patient rooms—evolving technology, greater emphasis on the patient experience, streamlining efficiencies, managing costs—are also influencing the design of patient floors. Pending healthcare legislation certainly will influence further design innovations.
As with the patient room, Nyberg noted five design changes on the patient floor over the past 25 years.
Decentralized nurses’ stations Decentralized nurses’ stations place caregivers outside the patient room, not down the hall. Medicine, supplies and patient records are now within easy reach of each room, offering more interaction between nurse and patient. This design change has increased response time, service, safety, and reduced staff walking distance up and down (and up and down) corridors.
Technology Technology has transformed healthcare design—not only diagnostic and treatment technology—but communication technology. Hospital staff can communicate instantly with each other via voice systems using a wireless, hands-free cell, increasing mobility and response time. This advancement, along with the movement toward paperless medical records, has freed up storage and filing space, which can now be used for added medical services and amenities.
Universal care Rather than moving the patient for treatment or diagnostic tests, hospitals are bringing services to the patient. Today’s patient floors often are designed to include new spaces such as therapy rooms, imaging, and universal patient rooms to accommodate once-dispersed services. This shift in floor design is less disruptive for the patient and more efficient for the caregiver.
Family amenities Unlike in the past, family members no long have to contend with uninviting interiors. Today’s patient floors offer a variety of waiting areas to accommodate different visitor needs, including wi-fi enabled media areas, resource centers, comfortable lounges, and meditation spaces. Some hospitals even offer kitchen spaces where family members can prepare their own ethnically or religiously appropriate meals. Cafeterias, too, offer a healthier, more appetizing selection of gourmet food.
Finishes Codes and regulations often make it challenging to achieve sustainable results in healthcare design, but a wide variety of new—and old—products are providing green solutions. Terrazzo flooring, once used extensively in healthcare facilities before losing favor, is finding its way back to common spaces while linoleum—another sustainable product that lost favor—is being used more extensively in patient units. Terrazzo and linoleum are both durable and natural, and offer versatile aesthetic potential.