To improve satisfaction scores, hospitals seek patient input on design

As patient satisfaction grows more important to both hospital operations and provider reimbursements, many hospitals focus on design elements to increase patient comfort, according to the Houston Chronicle.

For example, Texas Children's Pavilion for Women, which opened in March 2012, involved nurses, other hospital staff and expecting parents in the design process, according to the article. They joined doctors in reviewing work flow plans, color palettes, lighting and window options, and beds for comfort and safety.

Designers created life-size mockups of design suggestions, which stakeholders could then tour and try out to identify further necessities like lengthening visitor beds. The process continued after construction, with builders replacing faucets after nurses pointed out the lukewarm water was too cold to bathe newborns.

At CHI St. Luke's Health-The Woodlands (Texas) Hospital, staff took cues from the hospitality industry, Assistant Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer Peg Reiter told the Chronicle. St. Luke's features a window-heavy design, carpeted corridors, a children's playroom in the waiting area and a fireplace and chairs in the gift shop. Areas where patients might particularly value privacy, such as the breast imaging center, were designed with features like changing areas and private imaging rooms.

Patient comfort is essential for hospital survival, Patrick Testa, a consultant with the facility planning forum for the Advisory Board Company, told the Chronicle. "We are no longer in an environment where if you build it, they will come," he said. "To succeed in the future, the key for health systems will be to attract and retain patients by meeting a new set of consumer demands. A better-informed, cost-conscious patient is becoming a key decision-maker in the marketplace."

While hospital design can increase patient comfort, it can also improve health and wellness in the community, particularly if facilities use the "village" design model, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

To learn more:
- here's the Chronicle article