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Designing Staff: Your Best Resource May Be Closer Than You Think

April 2015
Author: Lisa Ellis

Do you involve your physicians and nurses in your design and renovation efforts? If not, you could be missing out on a valuable resource to help you better meet the provisions of healthcare reform, which require high quality and efficient care. Better yet, your staff is already on your payroll—and they know your operations better than anyone else!

I recently had a unique opportunity to see the many benefits that come when professionals on the front line of patient care can design a facility that speaks to their needs and work styles. The small New England hospital I was working for decided to modernize its operations by adding a brand new, state-of-the-art building on its main campus as part of a multi-year plan to address the components of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in the most sustainable way. From the very earliest stage of the design and planning process, the hospital’s administration made a substantial effort to involve their physicians and nurses alongside the architects, contractors, and interior designers. The leadership recognized that staff members were the ones who would actually be working in the new building, so they valued and respected the opinions they brought to the table.

The physicians and nurses were also pleased to offer their input, making suggestions on everything from the strategic location of triage stations (so they could monitor several patient care hallways at once), to methods for setting up the patient rooms, to the installation of electrical outlets—and even public bathrooms—in the most convenient places. They also helped to determine how to manage patient care operations safely during the construction phase with the least amount of disruption.

The result was a very smooth process that culminated in a user-friendly and efficient building benefiting both staff and patients by facilitating operations and maximizing comfort and convenience.

While it seems like an obvious decision to include the physicians and nurses in this type of building or renovation plan, in many cases organizations overlook this step in their zest (or impatience) to move forward. Such oversight can ultimately be detrimental to the health of your organization.

The reality is that soliciting meaningful staff input can sometimes be a bit messy, with lots of different views and conflicting schedules—but as the example above illustrates (like countless other cases out there in which hospitals successfully implement healthcare reform through design efforts), it can be well worth the time and inconvenience to help navigate the rocky landscape created by healthcare reform and ultimately arrive at your destination.


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