New hospital building focused on healthy, evidence-based design

While nobody particularly likes being a patient in a semi-private room, until recently hospitals never looked at whether this setting could actually be undermining patient care. Today, however, hospitals are becoming a lot more sensitive to issues like these when they renovate or build new facilities.

Increasingly, hospitals are focusing on "evidence-based design," architectural strategies that research has shown improves patient health, reduces medical mistakes and cuts down on staff injuries. To date more than 1,500 studies have been performed that have documented ways in which design can improve the quality of care and patient experiences.

One key strategy that is emerging is the need for single, rather than shared, patient rooms. Not only are single rooms more comfortable psychologically--as they offer more privacy--but they've also been shown to reduce infections and patient stress as well as improve sleep. Hospitals are also building larger rooms equipped with extra storage, both of which encourage families to spend more time with the patient.

Other evidence-based design principles include making sure rooms have as much natural light and nature views as possible, which can reduce depression and reported levels of pain, using acoustical materials to dampen noise, and creating sight lines so nurses can easily see patients.

To date, it's not clear how many hospital leaders actually see these steps as a necessity. But with 53 million square feet of new construction and major additions being started in 2008, we'll soon see whether evidence-based design is being taken seriously.

To learn more about this trend:
- read this piece in The New York Times

Related Articles:
Trend: 'Evidence based' hospital design increasingly popular
Study: Hospitals' design impacts employee turnover
Design changes improve hospital safety