Briefings on Hospital Safety excerpt: How hospital design can improve the patient experience, outcomes

Hospital Safety Insider, August 9, 2012

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Whether it's renovating a hospital wing or building a new facility from the ground up, healthcare construction projects require administrators and planners to consider a number of factors, from safety to efficiency.

One thing more hospitals are putting near the top of their list is aesthetics and interior design, particularly as more evidence shows that certain elements of patient rooms and interior design can provide an environment with less stress and better patient outcomes. This evidence has allowed hospitals to place more emphasis on implementing proven design elements during construction or renovation projects.

For many years, this approach, known as evidence-based design, has addressed issues in the patient care environment with data collection and research studies that drive the process of creating healthcare buildings. This approach allows designers, architects, and hospital administrators to create buildings that are intended to reduce stress for staff, family, and patients, improve quality care, and actually help patients recover faster. A 2009 article published in The New York Times indicated that more than 1,500 studies have been published that look at ways hospital design can reduce medical errors, eliminate infections, and reduce stress.

"This is something that has really been talked about for a long time, and what we have seen more and more lately is this movement towards evidence-based design, which is more than just the philosophy of how we create environments that are more patient centered, but how we utilize the research that we know is out in the industry to make better decisions," says Debra Levin, president and CEO of The Center for Health Design in Concord, Calif.

Now that CMS has started tying Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement to patient satisfaction, specifically the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems surveys, more facilities are taking this evidence-based design method to their construction and planning meetings, says Michael Zambo, ACHA, EDAC, principal at Bostwick Design Partnership in Cleveland. It offers more than just marketing opportunities for things like individual patient rooms. The right elements can improve patient care and reduce stress for employees and visitors.

This excerpt is from the September issue of Briefings on Hospital Safety. Subscribers can read the entire article here.

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