5 Ways Hospital Design Influences Patient Health

Image photographer: Charles Davis Smith | Architect: RTKL Associates Inc. | Healthcare Design

Image photographer: Charles Davis Smith | Architect: RTKL Associates Inc. | Healthcare Design

It is no secret that hospital patients are influenced by their surroundings. Hospital design directly impacts patient health – in more ways than one might think. Today hospital designers are trying to evolve hospitals beyond their infamously sterile décor. Care is being taken to use color, nature and wayfinding to ease a patient’s hospital stay. The following are five ways hospital design influences patient health – where care should be taken to improve patient recovery.

1) SENSE OF PLACE:
In the paper, Is there a Psychologist in the Building by Christian Jarrett, hospital layout is listed as quite an important factor for patients. Going beyond simple signage, hospital patients should be able to have a sense of their location without ever feeling lost. It has been found that having a sense of place helps keep patient stress levels down.(1)

2) PRIVATE ROOMS:
Also important to hospital design is the frequency of private rooms in a hospital. Providing private rooms reduces medication error and falling instances.(1) I’m sure you can imagine that private rooms also make for better visiting with patients and their loved ones.

3) NATURE + ARTWORK:
Hospitals that include nature and artwork are providing for more positive patient experiences. Both nature and artwork contribute to patients having a greater “sense of well-being” where spaces lend themselves toward contemplation and feeding the senses.(1)

4) NOISE:
A major problem within hospitals today is noise. Often patients cannot sleep through the night as medical carts screech through the halls and doors open and close. Hospital designers should pay greater attention to acoustics within hospitals as noisy environments generate more stress for patients. Also, sleep is critical for patient recovery.

5) COLOR:
Use of color in hospital design has a multitude of uses. Color can help patients have a sense of orientation – where color is used to give different hospital areas a sense of place. Also, color has been known to be associated with mood. Using the right colors in waiting areas, examination rooms, hallways or patient private rooms can have a definite affect on patient motivation and stress levels.

All in all, progress is being made to design better hospitals. Much study and research is now underway to more completely understand what patients truly need. So often, it is the patient that never gets their needs heard during the design process. For this reason it is nice to know that healthcare design is now getting more attention and making improved headway.

(1) Jarrett, Christian. Is there a psychologist in the building?. The Phychologist. Vol 19 No 10. October 2006.

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