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Evidence-based design of hospitals

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Dublin Methodist Hospital,  touted for its patient-friendly design.

Cambridge Management Group has been doing a lot of healthcare redesign work and so this article from HealthcareDIVE by Luke Gale about building and rebuilding hospitals to ease healing caught our attention.

He writes, among other things:

“Hospitals are supposed to be places where healing happens, but in some ways they are dangerous environments and physical design can play a large role in making them safer. …”

“{A}rchitects have changed the way they think about healthcare settings and are using design to improve patient safety and quality.”

“Advancements in medical sciences, like the introduction of new surgical antibiotics and sterile procedures, and building technologies, like the development of elevators and structural steel frames, led to the construction of the first skyscraper hospitals in the middle of the 20th century….The hospitals were often designed to maximize the efficiency of staff, but didn’t necessarily consider how design would affect patients.”

“Such designs have struggled to balance the need to house an ever-increasing variety of treatment and diagnostic equipment and spaces with the imperative for efficiency, especially nurses” they wrote in Making Healthy Places. ….The emphasis on efficient use of nurse time sometimes appeared to regard patients as inert units of production, whose agency and participation in their own care were inconsequential.”

“A growing body of evidence published throughout the 2000s linked healthcare design to quality and patient safety. This led to the development of new standards for hospital construction. The American Institute of Architects issued new healthcare building guidelines in 2006 and these were adopted as law in more than 35 states. These guidelines mandate, for instance, single rooms in acute care hospitals to reduce risk for infection, reduce unnecessary exposure to noise, and to promote private communication among patients and their providers.”

“As evidence-based design research has expanded, researchers have revealed that a variety of design elements can affect many different outcomes. For instance, hospital construction that features simple views of nature can help to reduce patient pain, stress, lengths of stay, and increases patient satisfaction….,”

“For healthcare decision-makers, accepting one-time capital costs to implement evidence-based design features in new construction projects could be offset by reductions in ongoing operational costs….”

To read Mr. Gale’s essay, please hit this link.

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