When it comes to medical facilities, quality of care isn’t the only consideration for patient experience. Well-designed, aesthetically pleasing facilities are essential. A well-built environment attracts top talent/caregivers, patients, and builds loyalty. The design can play a key role in both the physical and emotional health of patients and staff. With urgent care centers and satellite hospitals are on the rise, we have more opportunity than ever before to deliver healthcare designs that improve the outcome of all parties.
A Story From the Source
“A colleague of mine tells the story of lying in the triage room of a small regional hospital where the countertops were peeling and cabinet doors were falling off their hinges. The poor condition of the facility heightened his sense of anxiety and caused him to question the competency of the hospital staff – solely based on the condition of his physical surroundings. Although he received adequate care, he won’t be returning to the hospital in the future due to its unpleasant environment.
Compare his experience with that of another colleague who visited a recently designed urgent care center. She had called her doctor for an appointment but was unable to see the doctor until the next day. Instead of waiting, she remembered the new facility right down the street and decided to give it a try. She had a wonderful experience. The beauty of the facility, its convenient location and pleasant staff will ensure that she returns to the center for her family’s future healthcare needs.
It’s human nature to want to be in a newer hospital that has beautiful atrium-like lobbies with access to outdoor healing gardens, and patient rooms with an abundance of natural light, well-designed to accommodate family and friends. Will these features help cure cancer? Of course not. But in a report to The Center for Health Design for the Designing the 21st Century Hospital Project, researchers found they can improve a patient’s sense of well-being, reduce stress and boost their immune system so their body can heal better and faster. It’s not uncommon for facilities with these types of amenities to score extremely high with regards to patient experience satisfaction.” (Source)
Design Impacts Caregivers
Equally important the design is for the patients is the impact design has on caregivers. The aim is to design work areas that make the jobs of caregivers easier. A 2006 study published in MEDSURG Nursing, “How Far Do Nurses Walk?” found that nursing staff can walk 4-5 miles in a given shift. Decentralized nurse stations are one way to ease the burden. Another consideration is staff break rooms. It’s important to provide restful areas for workers to use while on break. These types of considerations and more enable staff to spend more time performing caregiving functions. They improve retention and overall staff experience. That alone can also improve quality of care and operational costs.
Design Impacts Patients
The architect can play a valuable role in the health of hospitals and their patients. A well-designed and functionally efficient environment creates a sense of well-being for patients and caregivers, improves patient outcomes and the overall experience, and increases the odds patients will return time and again for their healthcare needs.
Design Impacts the Operation
Any effort to attract patients, build loyalty, and improve efficiencies will positively impact the operation. If a healthcare organization is truly interested in providing an optimal physical setting, they may work with a healthcare designer to create a positive and productive environment that ensures all stakeholders are supported.
The end result will be a place that attracts patients and top talent and builds loyalty.
Marie Wikoff is the creator of Wikoff Design Studio based out of Reno, Nevada. Her expertise in healthcare design has helped develop modern design for healthcare organizations locally, regionally and internationally. Her credentials include Evidence-Based Design Accreditation and Certification (EDAC), American Academy of Healthcare Interior Designer (CHID), the National Council of Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) and LEED AP. Contact Marie Wikoff
Welton, John M., et al. “How far do nurses walk?” MedSurg Nursing, vol. 15, no. 4, Aug. 2006, p. 213+. Accessed 9 Oct. 2020.
Ryan, Tom. “How Your Healthcare Facility’s Design Can Attract Patients and Build Loyalty – Architecture.” Healthcare Facilities Today, 2018, www.healthcarefacilitiestoday.com/posts/details.aspx?id=19610.
Portions of this article were originally published on October 4, 2018 in Healthcare Facilities Today.