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People treated in facilities where the setting is conducive to strong communication tend to give higher scores in patient satisfaction surveys. By focusing on the communication that occurs between providers and patients in a healthcare space, design can be used to facilitate and enhance meaningful interaction.

Healthcare reform is in full swing with the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), providing many opportunities for the built environment to be a driving force in better outcomes. Organizations are incentivized to improve the quality of the built environment, which can be accomplished by taking a comprehensive look at facility design, operational decisions, staff training, and care delivery, and how they relate to outcomes.

Healthcare-associated infections (HAI) and other easily transmittable diseases are a serious concern in most facilities today. Implementing some of the latest best practices in your physical environment can help to minimize their impact—and help you get the best outcomes from your efforts.

Noise affects patient safety and health, and is an important part of the patient experience. Patients often complain about noise levels during their hospital stay, but there are many interventions available to support a healthier and more comfortable environment.

A healthcare setting that facilitates partnerships between individual patients, clinicians, and family, a patient-centered medical home is a place where individualized care is designed around patient needs to increase care coordination and communication between providers and patients, and enhance overall quality, while simultaneously reducing costs. Individualized care within a patient centered medical home is provided in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner. 

Environmental cleanliness affects the patient experience, patient satisfaction, perceived service quality, and actual quality in terms of infection prevention. Successfully achieving certain levels of cleanliness requires an interdisciplinary approach that involves the building design, operational and policy changes, education of personnel, and cultural changes to the organization. 

Population health refers to not only the overall health of a population, but also the distribution of health. Healthcare built environments and community environments can be used to support effective population health management strategies such as establishing patient registries, monitoring cost and clinical metrics, engaging in risk management outreach, communicating with patients, educating patients, and coordinating effectively between care teams and patients. 

As people live longer and longer, managing the needs of the aging population is more important than ever. Medical and technological advancements are changing healthcare for the better, giving facility designers and medical professionals new ways to provide flexible models of care and help individuals age in place. In partnership with J&J Flooring Group, this toolbox will be open to all - more details here.

The built environment plays an important role in patient, staff, and resident safety, as the physical design of a healthcare facility directly affects outcomes such as medical errors, falls, infections, and staff injuries. Among the many environmental measures that can be taken to improve safety outcomes are single-bed patient rooms, air quality control, reduced noise levels, easy-to-clean surfaces, accessible alcohol hand-rub dispensers, and ceiling lifts. The full Safety Toolbox will be available in 2017.

While healthcare facilities are meant to be a place for healing, the use of hazardous and toxic materials in healthcare environments poses a serious health concern to patients and staff. A better alternative: incorporating various sustainable design features into healthcare environments to improve patient health, increase staff efficiency, and reduce energy consumption, waste, and the use of toxic materials. The full Sustainbility Toolbox will be available in 2017.

With state-of-the-art capabilities such as electronic health record systems, robotic surgeries, remote video connections, and medication safety systems, organizations can increase diagnostic and treatment efforts and enhance patient outcomes in exciting ways. These advancements can support cost-effective and efficient patient-centered care, all of which should be thoughtfully integrated into layout and design details. 

As hospitals and staff are overwhelmed with an influx of patients, overcrowding and long wait times continue to be problematic as hospitals struggle to get patients in and out of the ED. Using creative strategies to design flexibility into the built environment, hospital EDs can optimize operations and improve throughput while continuing to put the patient first. The full ED Throughput Toolbox will be available soon!

The various physical aspects of ambulatory care environments can positively or negatively impact patient experiences. Learn how the physical environment can increase or decrease positive outcomes in three main categories: patient outcomes (e.g. anxiety), staff outcomes (e.g. productivity), and operational outcomes (e.g. workflow). When considering an ambulatory redesign, renovation, or improvement to the physical space, the patient experience—what a patient goes through from the moment they access a community clinic to the time they exit the building or clinic parking lot—should always be taken into consideration during the design process. When looking at ways to improve the patient experience, there are certain design changes that are more appropriate than others, depending on which aspects of the patient experience are being examined.

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