Expensive new facilities don't improve patient scores on care

study in the Journal of Hospital Medicine challenges the conventional wisdom about the benefits of costly hospital renovation and expansion.

Zishan Siddiqui, M.D., of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, analyzed the effect of doctors practicing in the university's recently-constructed Sheikh Zayed Tower--which, along with a new children's hospital, cost $1.1 billion--on patient satisfaction scores.

An analysis of scores on care from patients discharged from 12 clinical units that were relocated to the tower found little improvement that was not also present in the older facility, where units were constructed between 1913 and 1980, according to the study. Although scores on specific factors such as cleanliness and privacy improved for patients treated in the tower, they were virtually unchanged on aspects of their care itself, such as doctors' and nurses' communication skills.

"Despite the widespread belief among healthcare leadership that facility renovation or expansion is a vital strategy for improving patient satisfaction, our study shows that this may not be a dominant factor," Siddiqui and his fellow authors wrote.

These findings would seem to contradict long-held beliefs about the benefits of new construction, according to Kaiser Health News, as well as specific examples such as NYU Langone Medical Center's improved patient experience scores after relocating its cardiology unit to a renovated floor.

Many healthcare leaders have looked to renovations and design elements in response to increased patient volumes and an aging population, but critics of hotel-like amenities in hospital settings have pointed out that such renovations often only improve patient experience, not necessarily outcomes, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

Although architectural upgrades can improve patient experience and safety in some ways, such as improving patient privacy and helping to better organize nursing stations, Siddiqui and his team said, the study results demonstrate that outdated facilities alone are not an excuse for poor patient satisfaction scores.

To learn more:
- here's the study abstract
- read the KHN article