If you’ve ever read the Health Facilities Management department “Last Detail” or viewed a slideshow on HFMmagazine.com’s “Design Center,” you know how absolutely gorgeous hospital design can be. Whether it’s integrating technology into room design to enhance patient care or a garden that allows both patients and visitors to enjoy a few minutes of tranquility, hospital design is becoming more centered on what the patient needs — and wants.

HFM Hospital Construction Survey data demonstrate that hospitals are listening to patients more closely than ever when it comes to how facilities are designed. Of the 200 hospitals surveyed, guess how many say that patient satisfaction is “not at all important” in design.

None. Nada. Zilch.

Eighty-six percent of hospitals responding to the survey said that patient satisfaction is “very important,” while 12 percent said patient satisfaction is “somewhat important” to the design process.  To that end, hospitals are asking patients to be involved in the design process:

• 79 percent of hospitals say patients offer feedback prior to design development

• 66 percent say patients offer feedback as designs are being developed

• 26 percent give patients the opportunity to test live mock-ups of proposed designs

• 8 percent include patients in the approval of a hospital’s final design

The article (and the survey’s results) also makes the salient point that the Affordable Care Act is exerting its influence on projects and design. As Andrew Quirk, senior vice president and national director at Skanska USA, a construction and design firm, notes in the article, “The exciting thing to me is that it really appears the Affordable Care Act is beginning to take root in the built environment.”

 

health-facilities-construction-survey

 

One of the most visible ways the ACA is making its appearance in health care design is in outpatient facilities that support population health initiatives. According to the survey:

• 60 percent of respondents say they are working on medical office building expansion vs. 22 percent in 2015)

• 53 percent of respondents say they are building health system-branded general medicine and family care centers throughout the community (24 percent in 2015)

• 49 percent of respondents say they are building immediate care facilities within the community (17 percent in 2015)

Investing in building these kinds of outpatient facilities helps hospitals find patients and care for them before those patients wind up so ill they require a trip to the emergency department, Randy Keiser, national health care director at Nashville-based Turner Construction told HFM.

The heart of a hospital will always be its people — whether it’s the doctors, nurses, environmental services staff or facility managers and engineers. However, it’s the bricks and mortar, steel and glass of a hospital’s physical plant that forms the skeleton, sinew and muscle that allows those same hospital personnel to do what they do best — help patients get amazing care and live as full a life as possible.