Perhaps you’ve noticed several new healthcare facilities opening in your hometown. I can count five new ones just in my neighborhood. The reason why is because easy access to healthcare is ever more important. During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, patients were being transferred farther away from their homes and loved ones due to understaffing and too many patients. When you have to seek care far away from home, it wreaks havoc on the patient experience and takes a toll on the patient, their family, and the healing process.
During the pandemic, tracking patients became such a problem that local hospital Renown, implemented logistics software to keep track of their patients and where they were sent for care. Renown Health Opens Care Traffic Control Center
In this case, the Transfer and Operations team ensures a better experience for Renown patients and families. The new system enables providers to provide care closer to home, in lower-cost ambulatory, outpatient surgical, and skilled nursing settings- instead of the hospital, and to deliver a sizeable portion of care to patients where they want to be, in their homes. (Source)
COVID-19 Increased Hospital Transfers
The health system was forced to transfer patients beginning last November to make room for an expected surge in COVID-19 patients, as well as other people with medical issues. On top of that, many people were hesitant to visit hospitals for fear of catching Covid-19. If people had more access to hometown neighborhood facilities, this would not have been an issue.
Case Study: Patient Transfers can Hurt Patients and Families
When patients are in the hospital suffering from illnesses they feel more comfortable when their family is around. Whisking people away from their home and family doesn’t only negatively affect the patients but it can affect the family of the patient as well. In this case study, Melissa Carter’s father Elias Apalit was transferred from Winnipeg to Minnedosa almost three weeks ago. Her mother and father were together for 51 years, and have been separated by forces out of their control. It’s left Apalit, who has advanced dementia, struggling to understand what is happening and where her husband had gone. Kristina Markus remembers being in tears after learning of her transfer to a facility hundreds of kilometers from her home. She received just two hours’ notice, barely enough time for her sister to come to say goodbye. That is just one example of how patient care needs to be close to home. Beyond that, the aging population may have trouble finding transportation to and from appointments.
How Can We Make This Better?
Patient Experience Surveys guide change in healthcare design, becoming so important that it is now one of the first steps administrators and designers take when starting a new project. The simple question: “How can we make this better?” drives change in healthcare design.
Survey Finds Location a Top Factor in Patient Experience
Proximity to a healthcare facility may be a bigger factor than ever in where patients choose to seek care, according to a recent survey by JLL, a real estate and investment management firm. In the polls, 83 percent of patients stated they would prefer to be near their care rather than driving farther to a new or renovated facility. (Source)
The Answer: Make Healthcare More Accessible.
This larger sense of what access means has resulted in smaller facilities, located in accessible locations such as neighborhood strip malls and furnished with modern equipment that is multi-functional.
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