Building for Humans: The Role of Human-Centered Design in the Hospital Setting (part 3 of 3)

So your hospital has decided to build its own “patient room of the future.” Congratulations! You’ve obtained the necessary buy-in and funding to infuse it with the latest and greatest innovations. Now what — where should you start?

Get the full article compendium: PATIENT ROOM OF THE FUTURE

Start with the humans.

Technology is certainly the star of the show in next-generation environments. But it becomes a burdensome layer of complexity for patients and clinicians if the human impact — that is, how these emerging technologies will be usable and useful in meeting the needs and requirements of its users — isn’t considered from the start. In fact, it should guide your whole strategy.

This creative approach to problem-solving is known as human-centered design. In a hospital setting, it starts with the people you’re designing for — looking closely at how the environment can promote their healing and comfort — and finishes with solutions tailored to their needs.

The promises of the modern patient room are plentiful, from transforming care delivery and patient experiences to improving operational workflows and hospital design.

Sure, it expands the possibilities for personalizing care, contributes to higher satisfaction scores, and improves costs, quality of care and outcomes. But only if its blueprints anchor upon the realities of the people expected to use it: clinicians, patients and families. A truly forward-looking plan for success begins and ends with a “humans first” focus.

Following on parts one, Enhancing the Hospital Experience and two, Bringing a Smart Patient Room to Life, this final installment of the patient room of the future series goes beyond the technology. This time, we’ll look at:

  • What it means to “digitize” health care from a human-centered perspective
  • The role of physical space design as an element of care
  • How healing environments restore a sense of control to patients
  • How a digital patient experience positions hospitals to transform care delivery

No place like home

As Dorothy observed in the Wizard of Oz, “There’s no place like home.” The proclamation rang true for the displaced ruby-slippered girl from Kansas and is undoubtedly relatable for hospitalized patients.

Typically, home is a place where we can relax. It’s familiar. All our favorite “stuff” surrounds us, whether that’s a comfy bed, a favorite chair or a loyal dog. The average hospital room? Well, it has none of these comforts.

Inpatient rooms are usually uncomfortable and often stressful. Neither of these feelings is particularly effective in promoting healing or well-being. Typically cramped hospital layouts with hallways littered with computers on wheels actually create feelings of disconnectedness for everyone.

There are even studies that show a patient’s surroundings can either speed recovery or amplify an illness. With clinical staff usually stretched thin, ensuring comfort isn’t always easy to prioritize over medical needs.

The patient room of the future factors in environmental design as an element of care. By converging digital technologies and thoughtfully designed care spaces, hospitals are creating rooms that give patients choice, control and comfort — key components in the healing process. They’re able to enhance efficiency and empower patients, families, and clinicians by removing barriers to natural human connections.

 This is the first in a three-part blog series on “Building the patient room of the future, today.” Read part one here and read part two here.