Cancer Center . . . Evidence-Based Design
An architectural movement is reinventing the historically austere hospital of yesterday into a new facility that brings in nature and sunlight; welcomes family and friends; and puts patients in charge in as many ways as possible. This modern, scientific approach is known as evidence-based design, and it’s influencing the construction of medical buildings across the nation, including the new Cancer Center.
Improving Traditional Healing Environments
Evidence-based healthcare design can improve the traditional healing environment in three key ways. The design should:
- Enhance patient safety by reducing infection, risk, injuries from falls, and medical errors.
- Eliminate environmental stressors that negatively affect outcomes and staff performance.
- Reduce stress and promote healing by making hospitals more pleasant, comfortable, and supportive for patients
Researchers from Texas A&M University and Georgia Tech University recently performed an analysis of hundreds of studies a few years ago for The Center for Health Design, a nonprofit organization based in Concord, Calif. They found a direct link between hospital construction and patient outcomes. For example, patient falls declined 75 percent at an Indianapolis cardiac critical care unit after nursing stations were spread out and placed near patient rooms. And medical errors dropped by 30 percent on two units of a Detroit hospital that incorporated more space – and noise-reducing features – for medication rooms.
The Center for Health Design study recommends incorporating features such as single-patient rooms, sound-absorbing carpet and ceiling tiles, brighter lighting and better interior design. Allowing family and friends to be nearby has also been shown to improve patients’ health, so evidence-based designers seek input from families and patients to find ways to make visitors comfortable and welcome.
Another facet of evidence-based design is patient empowerment, which is shown to reduce stress. Architects are working to give patients some control of their environment through designs that help them move around a facility without getting lost or adjust their own window blinds and room lighting from the bed. Positive distractions are built into the plans in the form of music, artwork and color schemes that take a prominent role in a building’s overall atmosphere. Evidence-based designers invite patients to the drawing table to determine what will be most effective in promoting wellness.
Patient advisors guided planners and designers of the Cancer Center by choosing the southern flowers theme, suggesting artwork designs to incorporate and determining the most patient-friendly wayfinding signage, among other things.
Evidence-based healthcare design should result in demonstrated improvements in a hospital’s clinical outcomes, economic performance, productivity and customer satisfaction. At Georgia Regents Medical Center, we practice evidence-based design because we are committed to providing better care, better outcomes and better medicine, and we do so by providing your care, your way.