Needing a place to chart or a private place to have a difficult conversation with a patient’s family is harder than you would think in many hospitals. A frequent complaint of medical staff is that medical facilities are often crowded and there’s competition for open spaces, offices and conference rooms. Part of the reason for this phenomenon is the shift towards multidisciplinary care in hospitals that brings in more medical staff from various backgrounds into one facility. Another reason is that spaces such as these often an afterthought and not adequately designed.
The shift towards evidence-based design in healthcare architecture recognizes these issues and advocates the use of centrally located workstations that offer some privacy. An ideal space is quiet but still supports communication. For example, glass partitions allow teammates to see each other while conserving privacy and minimizing noise.
Hospitals are now shifting away from private offices and towards the use of ‘hoteling’, where a staff member may occupy a workspace for a shift, and then use huddle areas for more collaborative work. Additionally, designers are breaking up work areas into specializations: some areas for collaboration, some for head-down tasks that require focus, and other areas to take a phone call or have a break.
The benefits of having staff centered spaces are plenty. First, because of the central location, staff will most likely walk less from patient to station. This is a big deal when one is working a 10-hour shift. Secondly, the care team works more closely with physicians which enable nurses, assistants which enable the team to work more closely. Lastly, keeping the staff in mind and creating a design that answers their needs goes a long way in improving burnout. Burnout is a proven issue in all industries, but it is particularly rampant in the healthcare setting.
Marie Wikoff is the creator of Wikoff Design Studio based out of Reno, Nevada. Her expertise in healthcare design has helped develop