3 ways design can help critical access hospitals

Amid turbulent times for the nation's rural healthcare providers, rethinking design could make critical access hospitals (CAHs) more efficient, according to Healthcare Design Magazine.

Well-thought-out design, long considered a way of improving population health, can be particularly beneficial to CAHs, according to the article, which states design can: 

Optimize staffing: Sidney (Nebraska) Regional Medical Center's design maximizes the adjacency of staff that need to be in close contact, and positions nurses' stations near the inpatient, radiology, pharmacy, surgery and emergency departments, according to the article.

Promote outpatient-centered care: CAH design has followed healthcare in its shift to outpatient settings, leading the facilities to locate departments such as radiology, lab and pharmacy much closer to the front of the building than before. For the same reason, many share space with clinics, cutting both square footage and costs. "Before, radiology might have been buried inside a hospital, but now we design them with storefront access to the public space," Jonathan Fliege, senior architect with Leo A Daly, told the publication. "That way, your expenditure for a radiology room can easily be used for outpatients."

Improve the patient experience: CAHs are not subject to the federal government's tying of reimbursements to patient satisfaction scores, but they are still vital to community and business relations, said Jenny Obermeier, head of nursing at York (Nebraska) General Health Care Services. These goals led York to build new wings that reduce noise and the chance of patient falls, and offer patients more privacy. 

To learn more:
- read the Healthcare Design article