Part I of II: Designing for the Patient Experience
At the center of DLR Group’s Healthcare practice is an individual – be it a patient, care giver, instructor, or student. Our design extends beyond the building to consider the emotional, mental, and social wellbeing of its inhabitants; in particular the patients. When we look at how design considerations bring value to our clients, we see how improved patient experiences equate to higher Press-Ganey scores, which ultimately have a positive impact on Medicare reimbursements, and ultimately save the facility money.
Cutting-edge medical design is an essential part of what we do at DLR Group. Equally as important is the value we bring to our clients. While there are many definitions of what it means to bring value, our approach follows a set of proven goals that produce well-designed healthcare facilities that also lower the cost of construction and operating costs.
We can never lose sight of the patient. With each project, we put ourselves in the place of patients, caregivers, providers, administrators, and other users to understand how the space will impact their experience. For workers, it means considering how their workplace environment can contribute to improved happiness, relieve the stress of an oftentimes difficult and challenging job, and support them as they care for patients. For patients, it means finding ways to eliminate clutter, create quiet spaces, and foster environments that can reduce stress.
Cleveland Clinic's Brunswick Emergency Department in Cleveland, Ohio by DLR Group. Photo by Kevin G Reeves.
Our goal is always to provide a direct, uncomplicated, stress reducing experience for the patient. It starts with arriving at the entrance: creating entrances with good visibility to the point of entry, defined drop-off and pickup zone, intuitive wayfinding, minimal clutter, and a logical path of travel. Once inside, users should be able to continue easily with well-defined cues and a typology of points of contact, such as reception desks, waiting areas, department entries, etc. We also consider the separation of public and private paths of travel. Happy patients who don’t get lost reflects our goal to ensure patients can easily and simply move through the building or space without added anxiety.
It’s been said that what gets us into trouble is not what we don't know; it's what we know for sure that just isn’t so. As designers, we know one thing for sure: change is inevitable. Like most things in life, every healthcare building we ever design will change. We expect change and plan for change from the very beginning of our process. It starts by defining logical circulation paths designed to extrude and expand. We consider modularity and regularity, and work backwards to avoid roadblocks and dead ends. We anticipate and allow for the inevitable changes that will come, bringing value to our clients now and in the future.
In Part II, I’ll share additional pointers on how we provide patient-centered design that directly impacts the bottom line for our clients. In the meantime, catch up on these four tips for designing the hospital of the future.
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