Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Hospitals Building for the Woo-Factor

Welcome to the Hotel California
Such a lovely place (Such a lovely place)
Such a lovely face
Plenty of room at the Hotel California
Any time of year (Any time of year)
You can find it here.

“Hotel California”, The Eagles

This morning, Laura Landro of the Wall Street Journal mentioned that hospitals are creating a “healing environment” through huge construction costs that is cloaked in an effort to improve outcomes based on “evidence-based design:”
Amid a $200 billion construction boom to replace or rebuild aging and outdated hospitals over the next decade, health-care architects and designers are creating a new blueprint for a "healing environment," based on a growing body of evidence showing that the quality of a hospital's patient rooms, corridors and public spaces directly influences both the health outcomes of patients and the stress levels and efficiency of hospital staff. In addition to private patient rooms and "social spaces" for family members, new designs include decentralized nursing stations to reduce staff chatter, acoustical tiles and carpet to reduce equipment noise, special filtration systems to improve air quality and neutralize odors, and access to gardens and natural light to reduce stress and combat depression that can be exacerbated by noisy, chaotic and harshly lit hospitals.

Just as doctors practice medicine based on evidence of effective treatments, hospitals are turning to "evidence-based design," as studies show "the built environment has an important impact on outcomes in health care," says Debra Levin, president of the nonprofit Center for Health Design, a leading research group that is working with about 40 hospitals on a program known as the Pebble Project to document examples of health-care facilities whose design has made a difference in the quality of care and improved financial performance.
While there are certainly benefits to private rooms in hospitals by reducing the spread of “super-bugs” in hospitals between patients, we really can’t forget the real reason hospitals are spending money now – the woo-factor.

For it is the woo, not “evidence-based” design, with its attractive architecture, pleasant lighting, etc., that patients demand – and hospitals, after all, are entering a period of unprecedented competition between centers to attract well-to-do patients with money (and insurance). In this era of declining revenue, and increasingly savvy patients who can check out “hospital quality” on-line - it’s build or die.


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