Evidence grows that hospital design can improve outcomes

Hospital design can improve clinical outcomes along with patient satisfaction, the Harvard Business Review reported. In fact, research now shows that the proper design can prevent the spread of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), reduce patient pain and shorten hospital stays.

In one of the article's examples, a McGill University hospital in Montreal cut HAIs by more than half by redesigning its intensive care unit from shared to private rooms. The length of ICU stay also fell by 10 percent.

The findings echo the initial results of a three-year program at the University of Chicago that documented how new design affected bacterial growth. Early analysis showed that everything from ventilation and humidity levels to the type of material used for countertops and other surfaces influenced microbial growth. In essence, the hospital itself could become a treatment for patients, one researcher said.

Other design-related findings highlighted in the article:

  • Hospital gardens help speed healing as well as help family members and staff deal with stress. The garden doesn't have to be outdoors; a nature-filled atrium works just as well.
  • Images of nature that hang in the lounge of an acute psychiatric clinic saved a hospital more than $30,000 in injections that would have otherwise been used to calm agitated patients, according to the article.
  • A redesign of maternity and neonatal units that allowed mothers to hold their babies next to their skin cut 10 days from the hospitalization time for premature infants, slashed morbidity rates and reduced the need for babies to use a ventilator. 

Evidence-based design is evolving from evidence-based clinical practices, with nurses taking an increasingly important role in developing those designs, FierceHealthcare previously reported. Firms specializing in healthcare architecture often hire nurses to help architects understand the needs of the healthcare environment.

For more:
- read the article