Building smarter healthcare through better healthcare interior design

There’s a lot to consider when approaching a healthcare interior design project. The healthcare furnishings you choose will need to function as more than just passive elements of your hospital floor plan. They will be expected to support patients and loved ones through times of high stress and allow staff to perform their duties quickly and efficiently, all while not inhibiting the recovery of patients. Before you write off your hospital interior as simply a sunk cost, consider the following.

Evidence-based design

The premise behind evidence-based design (EBD) seems simple enough. After all, it’s just the practice of using credible research concerning built environments to best affect patient outcomes. If you want patients to get well and stay well, it only makes sense to pay attention to the environment in which they’re treated. But in reality, the ways in which patients and healthcare workers interact with their environment are complex.

“Cleanability” is the word when it comes to an evidence-based, interior healthcare design project. Paying close attention to the design of the furniture you choose will go a long way toward reducing the surface contamination that can lead to healthcare-associated infections (HAI).

Pieces within patients’ rooms are at especially high-risk for harboring the sort of pathogens capable of transmitting infection. Surfaces covered with seams and joints provide irresistible homes for potentially infectious bacteria. Therefore, it’s important that design decisions select for surfaces that are easily wiped down by facility staff. Wood, though warm and natural, provides a poor barrier against HAI. It tends to be porous, and finishes are often stripped with repetitive cleanings, so it’s best left for lower-risk areas like lobbies and waiting rooms.

Antimicrobials

Advances in textile coatings mean the furniture in your healthcare facility can be fighting the spread of pathogens for you. Antimicrobial fibers act as the front line against HAI. Companies like Nano-Tex and Crypton now manufacture textile coatings that, in addition to fighting stains, actively combat the growth of microorganisms. While there’s no substitute for regular elbow grease, these materials combat dangerous microorganisms around the clock.

Budget

Budgetary constraints will often be the first hurdle one encounters when managing an interior healthcare design project. If your project involves the renovation of an existing healthcare facility, it’s important to thoroughly evaluate any existing inventory that can be repurposed and incorporated into your new design layout.

If you’re starting a new hospital development from scratch, think ahead. Of course initial costs will be a factor, but think in terms of product life cycle and design versatility. “Double-rubs,” a measure of abrasion resistance, should exceed 100 thousand. Will a piece maintain its functionality if it needs to be moved? Will it need to be replaced more often than a slightly more expensive one? Are replacement parts widely available?

Vision

EBD doesn’t mean sacrificing the appearance of your healthcare facility to cold-hearted functionality. On the contrary, studies show a strong link between natural light, artwork and color to decreased stress and shortened healing times. The color green, for instance, has been shown to motivate patients and accelerate recovery. Smartly managing the natural resources of your building site can greatly improve its energy efficiency, too.

A cohesive “look” can be difficult to maintain when you’re charged with furnishing patient rooms, lobbies, offices and more, all within the same building. But it’s important to remember the overall image of your project. More than just walls and a roof, your healthcare facility represents your brand. Do your interior design decisions reflect your cohesive vision?

Smarter design means smarter care

Building better healthcare is a comprehensive process. From the moment you break ground, to the moment you position the final chair in a patient’s room, we at The Korte Company always believe the process can be done better. To us, that’s building smart.

 

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