EFFICIENT INTERIORS: Design Strategies That Help Hospital Staff to Provide Timely and High-Quality Care

By Appold, Karen | Health Facilities Management, May 2018 | Go to article overview

EFFICIENT INTERIORS: Design Strategies That Help Hospital Staff to Provide Timely and High-Quality Care


Appold, Karen, Health Facilities Management


The way a hospital is designed can improve staff efficiency in many ways, such as minimizing steps required, and reducing fatigue and stress. Certain design components, such as standardized rooms and floor plans, can result in greater efficiency.

Standardized room design provides a consistent manner in which to deliver care. The orientation of staff to the patient and to other elements in the room, such as the hand-washing sink and supplies, are the same from room to room. "This approach reduces time spent searching for supplies and equipment," says Jocelyn Stroupe, CHID, EDAC, IIDA, ASID, principal and director of health interiors, CannonDesign, Chicago. "Staff are familiar with the room's organization and can focus more time on caring for the patient."

Ken Bowman, IIDA, ASID, NCIDQ, EDAC, LEED, AP ID+C, director of interior design, ESa, Nashville, Tenn., says that some physicians become accustomed to working on one side of a room or the other. "In high-acuity areas, having rooms oriented in different directions can slow them down," he says.

OTHER STRATEGIES

Other interior design strategies that can improve staff efficiency include:

SINGLE-BED PATIENT ROOMS | With sizable single-occupancy patient rooms becoming the norm, providing patients and their families with a more positive experience, units now have larger patient unit floor plates, which increases distances covered by staff. "In an effort to reduce staff fatigue and time spent traveling, organize patient units into 'care pods,' each with its own team stations, decentralized supply storage area and room for soiled and clean supplies," Stroupe suggests. "Reducing travel time gives nurses more time to spend at the bedside."

ADAPTABLE ROOMS | Adaptability is a big driver of health care design because health care changes quickly. Being able to make a room function in different ways with furnishings and equipment is key. Bowman recommends multifunctional, modular pieces that can be changed out much easier than permanently fixed furniture.

Stroupe frequently designs rooms with the same footprint and organization so their use can be more easily changed as patient population changes occur, such as transforming a medical-surgical room to an intensive care unit (ICU) or critical care room. This usually requires a room to be physically modified, such as adding glass sliding doors to adapt from a med-surg room to an ICU room or increasing the number of outlets on the headwall.

Molly Alspaugh, IIDA, ASID, NCIDQ, EDAC, LEED AP BD+C, senior interior design manager at ESa, recommends doing mock-ups with hospital decision-makers during the design phase using actual samples of furniture choices, focusing on placement and flexible usage concerns to determine the best locations and study related factors--such as safety.

STORAGE SOLUTIONS | In designing spaces to store patient supplies and medications, Stroupe has found two ways that don't disrupt the patient. By placing supplies in a cabinet outside the room, they can be restocked without entering the room. Another option, using a pass-through cabinet accessible outside of the patient's room, allows restocking to be done without disturbing the patient and the nurse can access items while inside the room with the patient.

Avoid clutter on the floor by designing locations for patient belongings, says Barbara Dellinger, FIIDA, EDAC, CHID, MDCID, NCIDQ, director of design and research, Adventist HealthCare, Rockville, Md. Other suggestions include having sufficient electrical outlets and cellphone charging stations to prevent cords from creating a tripping hazard and placing trash cans near the hand-washing sink to avoid dripping water, a potential slipping hazard.

PLACEMENT OF THE NURSES' DESK | Consider each organization's culture and workflows when determining placement of the nurses' work area. "Many organizations are incorporating decentralized nurses' stations and alcoves outside patient rooms so staff are distributed around the unit and closer to the patient rather than being in a single, central location," Stroupe says. …

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