Part II of II: Designing for the Patient Experience
In part one of this series, I discussed how DLR Group designers focus on empathy, simplicity, and flexibility as we strive to create healthcare facilities that put the individual – whether it’s a patient, care giver, instructor, or student – at the forefront of our design. Part two of this series looks at additional ways we deliver patient-centered design and value.
When we consider the design of the human body, we see a series of organs interconnected through conduits of systems that interact to operate the complex structure of our bodies. Everything has a place and function that supports our very existence, and does so to maximize efficiency and minimize waste. When we think of reducing waste in design and construction, lean is the first word that comes to mind. Our focus on effective operational systems means we consider material and process flows to better leverage medical and support staff efforts, saving redundant steps and reducing waste. We logically address planning adjacencies; movement of materials and patient safety; and utilize consistent design standards to support the reduction of errors, as well as the impact and costs related to those errors.
Summit Tri Star Digestive Wellness Center in Norton, Ohio by DLR Group|WRL. Photo by Kevin G Reeves.
While lean can support reduction in operational costs, uniformity supports a reduction in the cost of operations. Rather than create a group of standards, which can be interpreted as the only way something can be done, we consider guidelines accompanied by a default layout or approach. These guidelines may include published standards, such as WELL Building or the USGBC’s LEED standard, which lead to a lower energy usage index (EUI) and result in lower operating costs. The goal is always to develop systems that balance long-term returns on investment with reasonable first costs. When we work with clients to develop institutional guidelines, we encourage them to select materials, finishes, signage, and furnishing selections that are timeless and easily maintained – something that has a direct impact on the bottom line.
Last but certainly not least, the design of a healthcare facility must represent the ethos of the organization. It should respond to adjacent surroundings by being a good neighbor, and should especially serve as a soothing place for inhabitants who are often in the midst of turbulence. These facilities can serve as a vessel that creates and employs world-class healthcare innovation. It’s tempting to look at the latest design trends and try to infuse them into our healthcare buildings. Experience tells us that, in the long-term, our clients glean greater value from designs that are timeless, considerate, and calming.
As healthcare designers, we must be cognizant of the unique challenges healthcare facilities bring. They are both hyper technical and deeply humanistic. When we work with clients to develop and create the spaces they will inhabit, there are practical and aesthetic issues we must mediate to ensure the best possible outcome for all parties involved. This means looking at the project through a holistic lens. Each component contributes to the success of the facility and the client and, most importantly, the patient experience.
Learn more about our approach to designing healthcare facilities.
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