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Hospitals focus on design to provide better care

iStock | fiphoto

iStock | fiphoto

Recently we learned that natural light in hospitals not only improves nurse moods but also nurse performance, and now hospitals are finding that all aspects of hospital design may have an impact on patient care and nurse satisfaction.

The New York Times recently reported that the University Medical Center of Princeton began design research years before opening its new facility in 2012. Research included setting up a mock room in the former facility and receiving input from doctors and nurses on how best to outfit and arrange the room. Eventually patients began treatment in the redesigned rooms and a revealing statistic emerged: they were requesting 30 percent less pain medication.

Princeton’s new facility took all of that information into account when designing the new hospital, and patient satisfaction has jumped from the 61st percentile to the 99th percentile in the two years since it opened. The number of accidents have been reduced and infection rates are lower as well.

Findings like these are not isolated to the Princeton hospital. A 2004 study found positive physical environments in hospitals reduced stress and fatigue of staff, improved patient safety, improved patient outcomes and improved overall healthcare quality.

The Wall Street Journal reports that one of the ways hospitals are improving design is by taking cues from shopping malls, hotels and airports. This includes anything that makes it easier for patients to get around the hospital—and feel more comfortable while doing so. Other new additions include digital kiosks, interns personally escorting patients, and installing “landmarks” that make it easy to recognize where you are and find your way through the hospital.

Do you work at a hospital that has taken advantage of these or other new ways of improving patient care by improving the physical environment? Let us know if you’ve seen improvement! Also chime in if you have your own suggestions of what can be done to improve the physical landscape of your facility.

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