Hospital redesign: Offices are out, innovative design is in

As a variety of industries move away from traditional workspaces in order to modernize their businesses, the healthcare sector has embraced the open-office trend as well as other design innovations aimed to improve the patient experience.

One example is the University of Minnesota's new Ambulatory Care Center, a $160 million project expected to be completed in 2016 that eschews traditional offices in favor of a choice of different work settings that include "places where various providers and caregivers can interact," according to a recent Healthcare Design Magazine article.

These "collaboration spaces," located in the center of each clinic and intended to host interactions with patients, are in contrast to the "touchdown spaces" that line the perimeter of the building and provide a place for staff to engage in more focused work outside of clinic hours, the article states.

Along similar lines, the Gates Vascular Institute in Buffalo, New York, features what it calls "collision zones" outside of operating rooms and laboratories that encourage doctors and researchers to sit down and compare notes, FierceHealthcare previously reported. Another innovative design idea comes from Owensboro Health Regional Hospital in Kentucky, which renovated to place its heart center and operating rooms on the floor directly above the emergency department to speed up patient transfers.

Such ideas echo design recommendations that stress the positive effects that decentralized work areas have on the patient experience, FierceHealthcare reported. Some best practices design experts recommend for laying out patient floors include assigning private rooms to patients; locating staff and supplies closer to clusters of patient rooms; and using glass-walled collaboration areas that can reduce noise while maintaining sightlines.

Designing better hospitals can also benefit the medical staff, Healthcare Design notes. After all, healthcare workers notoriously suffer from stress-related burnout.

"We talk a lot about the benefits of [daylight and views] for patients when they're in a healthcare environment," Jocelyn M. Stroupe, a principal at CannonDesign, told the magazine. "It's equally important for staff to be able to enjoy them."

In all types of workplaces, new technology as well as the trend toward encouraging collaboration is likely to "render the current office-based workspace obsolete," according to Mobile Enterprise. But the trend hasn't been without its critics, as such setups can erode workers' privacy and lead to increased noise, Forbes reports.

To learn more:
- read the Healthcare Design article
- read the Mobile Enterprise report
- read the Forbes piece