Healthcare facilities face critical issues that often require a design eye to address infection control, patient and staff safety and operational efficiency.
What is Operational Efficiency In Healthcare?
Operational efficiency is the capability of an enterprise to deliver products or services to its customers in the most cost-effective manner possible while still ensuring the high quality of its products, service and support. You can imagine while this is such a hot topic in healthcare. With growing demand on the industry, higher healthcare costs and increased competition, operational efficiency is now more important. Efficiency ultimately drives the cost of healthcare down which is good for everyone!
How Healthcare Designers Create an Efficient Environment
Healthcare designers can use many tools to create an efficient environment. The best tool of all is data in the form of client and staff feedback and visioning sessions or modeling. Modeling reenacts the entire patient care process in order to understand it, identify the gaps and address them with improved design.
The desire to operational efficiency is the motive behind the recent 4th floor renovations that have been happening at the Sacramento VA Medical Center. Rather than do an entire redesign all at once, the VA Administration decided to build models meant to test, evaluate and revise until the results showed efficiency.
Models Built to Test
To begin, the VA administration design team identified their goals and the current problems they face. Next they decided that Evidence Based Design or EBD techniques would be the best approach to the problems. The EBD principles state that all design decisions can and should benefit the patient, their family, the staff and the hospital’s bottom line. Next, the VA design team asked healthcare design experts Hilliard Architects Inc. and Wikoff Design Studio to build five model rooms. The rooms were to be built onsite for the sole purpose of testing and acquiring feedback from the same staff who will eventually work in the final environment.
During the testing phase, the staff is asked to visit each model room and go through their everyday workflows. The VA administration is collecting data in the form of feedback from every member of the staff. Once the data is gathered. It will be evaluated and adjustments will be made to the model. This exciting approach is sure to result in a well-design hospital. Sure, it might take a little longer but the outcome will save time and money in the end and above all serve the patients and the staff.
About the Models
Hilliard Architects Inc. and Wikoff Design Studio put together five initial room designs. They built the following models:
- Patient Room
- Family Area
- Family Conference Room
- Nurses Station
- Staff Lounge
Each model includes the latest in healthcare design trends heavily influenced by Evidence Based Research which proves design decisions can improve the patient and staff experience as well as the hospital’s bottom line. The models are designed to provide patients and their families with the utmost care and streamline the tasks of hospital staff. Architectural and interior design modifications are made specifically to improve staff workflow and prevent injury and infection. The models use simple way-finding techniques that help people easily navigate the hospital.
Materials are used that are warm and inviting. Art pieces are thoughtfully chosen to provide a positive and comforting environment in both form and function. Some art pieces even double as adjustable lighting. Extra space was created for families inside the patient room. A large family area that looks like a rec center was created to entice more family time and to motivate patients to get up and move around in a comfortable environment. Conference areas were set up and designed to give privacy for those sometimes difficult conversations. The nurse’s station was built near the patient room so that the nurse on staff would spend less time walking from one end of the hospital to the other. Every aspect of the design is meant to promote health and well-being.
- Hilliard Architects https://hilliardarchitects.com/about/
- Wikoff Design Studio https://wikoffdesignstudio.com/