Patient-centered designs can help improve outcomes

Adding to the growing body of evidence on the benefits of hospital design, Connecticut's Griffin Hospital used patient-centered design elements for a renovated inpatient facility and brand new cancer center. The result? It has since seen lower infection rates, higher patient satisfaction and more patient admissions, according to a report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

The patient-centered design elements started right at the hospital entry, with speakers in parking lots playing soft music, a hotel-like lobby with a baby grand piano, and paid receptionists and volunteer ambassadors to welcome patients and visitors. The hospital redesign also incorporated patient-friendly units, which have decentralized nursing stations and mostly private patient rooms with air filtration systems.

Hospital administrators attribute the patient-centered design factors to fewer infection rates, reduced malpractice claims and a stronger financial performance, among other benefits.

For example, after decentralizing nursing stations, patient calls to nurses dropped 40 percent. The hospital also saw annual net patient revenue grow an average of 9 percent since 1999, during which time revenues surpassed expenses, the AHRQ report noted.

The hospital hasn't tried to establish a direct relationship between outcomes and hospital design, noting factors such as clinician and staff performance and care delivery systems also can influence outcomes.

Meanwhile, a redesign at Atlantic General Hospital's emergency department also led to positive results, The Dispatch reported. After converting two registration rooms to triage rooms and the existing triage room to a protocol room, 90 percent of visits in 2012 met the Maryland hospital's "30 Minute ER Promise." Improved access to Atlantic General's east entrance has enhanced patient and visitor safety, as well.

These hospitals seem to be heading on the right track. As FierceHealthcare previously reported, new and renovated hospital structures can be designed to improve patient health, reduce medical mistakes and eliminate staff injuries.

Moreover, incorporating larger single patient rooms, cleaner air systems and decentralized nurse stations could cost an extra $30 million for a $350 million, 300-bed hospital, but it also could save $10 million a year, showing a return in only three years.

For more:
- here's the AHRQ report
- read the Dispatch article