The Power of Place in Healthcare Environments

We’ve posted about the recent facility expansion at Methodist Richardson Medical Center in Richardson, Texas, before, but their project clearly is the gift that keeps on giving. In an article in Becker’s Hospital Review, their CEO Ken Hutchenrider definitively spells out the importance the healthcare environment has in delivering quality care:

Like any workspace, a hospital should be carefully crafted not only to meet the needs of the customer — the patient — but also to engage and meet the needs of the staff — the physicians, nurses and other team members who make excellent outcomes possible. This is exactly the approach we took with Steelcase Health in building our newly opened Methodist Richardson Medical Center expansion.

As articulated in the Steelcase Health Time for Change Insights and Applications Guide, the built environment is a critical factor for organizations looking to impact the behavior of the people within their walls – from physicians and nurses, to patients and their families.

Given the positive results they’ve seen so far in patient satisfaction and staff engagement, Hutchenrider proposed three core best practices for hospitals building new structures or redesigning existing ones:

Your patient? Your customer. Patients have more choice in providers and expectations of care than ever. As consumer-directed healthcare expands, it’s time that we start treating our patients, and their families, as valued guests. Outpatient spaces must be reimagined with a consumer focus as hubs of efficiency and convenience, and inpatient rooms must be designed with a concierge model in mind.

Collaboration is key. The shift to value-based care is forcing a new level of collaboration and creating previously unknown relationships and team structures between physicians, nurses and even entire departments. Hospital design that enables these new workflows, and creates a more supportive environment for staff, will not only improve retention but will result in new, improved patterns of behavior.

The family caregiver as co-pilot. Families are taking a more and more active role in the care of their loved ones, and this trend will only expand. They hold great decision-making sway in where their loved ones receive care, so the hospital environment should be designed with them in mind, which means access to technology, comfortable waiting spaces and a beautiful design experience.

Hutchenrider also participated in a Q&A with Interiors&Sources, where he discussed further the power of place and the importance of turning transitional moments in the healthcare experience into productive ones with spaces for entertainment, work, and relaxation.

Interiors & Sources: Innovative healthcare design isn’t about a single patient or space—it’s about the needs of an entire community. With this new strategic focus within the facility, how is Methodist helping the community where the hospital is located?

Ken Hutchenrider: We evaluated the design of our new facility to focus on how to be more effective and efficient in the work that we do for our community. Steelcase Health helped us to incorporate the role of the family caregiver and other family members into the design to address the specific needs of our patients. Through our partnership, we created healthcare waiting spaces that offer versatile zones to relax, watch television, and eat. We also designed business zones with plenty of outlets to allow individuals to stay connected to work outside of the office.

Click here to read the rest of the interview. As the team at Methodist Richardson understands so well, when the elements of people, place, and technology are all considered, the resulting healthcare environment will connect people and information effectively, empower patient healing and support the wellbeing of everyone who uses the space.

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