Three ways to improve patient experience through hospital design and planning

Hospital design and planning aspects that directly impact key elements supporting a positive patient experience include noise reduction and strategic layout and design.


According to a report by the American Hospital Association (AHA) and American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE), patient experience is heavily influenced by three factors: a caring staff, patient-centered operations and a well-designed facility. Results from the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey have helped to show that improved patient experience plays a significant role in attracting and retaining patients, and achieving better clinical outcomes. Subsequent to reviewing and analyzing the data, many facilities and health administrators have made enhancing patient experience a top priority.

Here are three hospital design and planning aspects that directly impact key elements supporting a positive patient experience:

1. Noise reduction

Because increased noise levels can be attributed to factors like stress, negative health effects, and even pain tolerance, facilities are taking steps to create quieter environments for patients. For instance, providing more private inpatient rooms can reduce exposure to noise and increase patient satisfaction. A research study in the Journal of Nursing Administration showed that when all patient rooms are identically oriented, it reduces noise transmission as shared headwalls are eliminated and patient room doors are farther apart. Larger HVAC ductwork also can be used in private rooms to provide an even quieter environment.

A caveat of reduced noise, however, is meeting HIPPA law standards as it relates to privacy for patient medical information. To accommodate this, facilities can install a white noise system in waiting areas that generates ambient noise to prevent others from overhearing sensitive information pertaining to patients.

2. Strategic layout

In an effort to improve staff response times to patients, facilities have started moving away from centralized nurse stations and are now positioning stations on either end of each unit, placing nurses closer to patients. Strategically located huddle rooms have also been added to healthcare designs to reinforce communication among caregivers and allow for interdisciplinary clinical meetings closer to patient beds. Additionally, decentralizing patient supplies and adding storage space outside patient rooms is a great way to reduce staff travel and lag time between patient requests and caregivers attending to their needs.

3. Innovative technology

When it comes to healthcare, patients and hospital staff accessing data with ease is crucial to a positive patient experience. Patients can now benefit from digital screens located in inpatient rooms or exam and treatment rooms that deliver patient and family education, clinical communication, and even personal greetings. Nurse tracking technology also creates a more inclusive and efficient experience through immediate access to personalized information for both patients and caregivers while streamlining hospital workflows. Innovative technology will also become a major driver to telemedicine for remote consulting.

Patient-focused MEP designs have played a critical role in patient experience and bolstering patient satisfaction. We recognize the impact every design has on patient care, facilities, and your bottom line. RTM works with facility staff to learn about your infrastructure before making recommendations-leveraging our specialized knowledge and expertise to coordinate designs that seamlessly integrate with your day-to-day functions.

This article originally appeared on RTM Engineering Consultants' website. RTM Engineering Consultants is a CFE Media content partner.  

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