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A little over a week ago, Palomar Medical Center, a new $1 billion facility in Escondido, CA, opened for business. The place is gorgeous. (See for yourself: Here's a photo gallery, and here's a video.) But more important than the impressive aesthetics are the design elements built into the facility that may end up reducing errors and infections and improving the quality of patient care, according to this story about it in HealthLeaders.
For example, 120 of the hospital’s 288 single-bed rooms can be “instantly converted to an intensive care unit,” according to the article. Faucets in all patient rooms turn on automatically when someone enters, prompting staff to wash their hands. And the hospital added handrails close to the beds to cut the risk of patient falls.
It’s no secret that healthcare architecture can play a big role in improving patient care. A Lancet essay from a few years ago backs up the idea that you can influence hand hygiene rates by positioning wash basins and alcohol hand rub dispensers where staff are more likely to see them. It notes as well that single-bed rooms lead to lower infection rates and greater patient satisfaction. More exposure to natural sunlight can lower patient depression and even pain levels.
According to an AHRQ report, “views of nature, artwork, and music also reduce patient stress and can lead to better outcomes.” AHRQ’s report echoes the Lancet piece in emphasizing the importance of noise reduction as well: “single-bed rooms with high-performance, sound-absorbing ceilings and limited overhead announcements can substantially improve the healing environment for patients,” it claims.
So maybe you don’t have a billion dollars lying around to create the latest Taj Mahal of healthcare. There still might be some lower-cost options to help you improve both the quality of patient care and the overall patient experience at your facility.