Modern Design Influences in the Health Care Industry
When patients walk into a hospital or other medical setting, they aren't generally thinking about the interior decor, but studies have shown everything from the pattern of the tile to the color of the walls can impact a patient's recovery time and their overall experience in the facility. Let's take a closer look at how modern design is influencing the health care industry, and how these changes are helping patients around the globe.
Letting the Sun In
Traditionally, harsh fluorescent lighting has characterized hospitals and doctor's offices. While this is effective, it can be costly and uncomfortable. One of the essential tenets of modern design is using natural lighting wherever possible. It's gentler than artificial lights and costs less than electric lighting, but the design of older hospitals keeps out as much natural light as possible, equipping patient rooms with small windows or no windows at all.
Studies have shown natural light has other positives in addition to saving the facility money on their monthly utility bills. Staff working in facilities with ample natural light during the day experience higher job satisfaction and productivity, as well as an improved feeling of psychological well-being. Hospitals with natural lighting see 2.5% fewer employees calling in sick to work, and a 12% increase in patient recovery time.
St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton in Ontario is just one of many health care facilities that are remodeling to let more natural light in, specifically because of the benefits to patient recovery.
Going Green — Literally
While creating a sustainable and eco-friendly facility is becoming a common goal in the health care industry, that's not the kind of green that is changing hospital interior design. Facilities are beginning to create gardens, bring in potted plants and provide a view of nature for their patients as a means to improve recovery, lessen pain and increase patient happiness. Studies published since 1984 have proven merely being able to see nature through a window helps patients experience less pain, have shorter stays after operations and even have fewer complications after their procedures.
It's not always easy to create a garden, especially for hospitals in areas that get a lot of snow. One such hospital, Bronson Methodist in Kalamazoo, Mich., rose to the challenge by remodeling their drum atrium, filling it with plants patients and staff can access from any wing of the hospital.
Using Color to Heal
Colors speak a language, and each hue elicits a different physiological response from those viewing it. Earth tones are soothing, while neutral colors are restful. Hospitals have long been using the power of color to heal their patients. Blue, for example, is a common color in patient rooms and has effectively helped lower blood pressure and heart rate.
The CHUQ Children's Hospital in Quebec recently remodeled its facility, adding a new pediatric/adult emergency unit as well as additional parking. The entire redesign focused on color, equipment, furniture and lighting to create a calming and welcoming environment in an area where patients or family members might be stressed or afraid.
Modern Design for Modern Care
Doctor's offices don't necessarily need to maintain the sterile appearance they used to have. Health care startups are changing the way patients and staff look at medical facilities. Forward, a startup based in San Francisco's financial district, has a facility that looks more like an Apple store than a doctor's office. It only houses six exam rooms, but each room features body scanners and personalized displays that take the medical experience to a whole new level. Patients can even review the results of their scan on their app while they wait for the doctor to analyze the results.
Forward's San Francisco facility is just one of many that are divorcing themselves from the idea that doctor's offices need to be white and blue, or stark and austere. These facilities are tapping into every principle of modern design to create an office patients want to visit, rather than one they dread.
Looking Toward the Future
Rebuilding and refurbishing existing hospitals to accommodate these new changes will be a challenge. Many are continually in use, making it impossible to shut down parts of them for remodeling. For those that can undergo updates, adding things like color, natural lighting and plant life or gardens can help improve patient experiences while reducing costs. The goal for each facility should be to make patients as comfortable as possible, while still providing a sterile and efficient atmosphere for hospital staff to do their work.
No one likes to think about having to go to the hospital, regardless of the situation. By making minor changes, hospital managers can generate a shift in perspective, creating a place where patients and their friends or family members are at least comfortable during their stay. Modern design will continue to influence the health care industry into the future, and will undoubtedly improve patient experiences across the board.
This post was written by Holly Welles. She is a real estate writer and the editor behind The Estate Update. She’s passionate about the ways in which the industry is changing and loves to stay on top of millennial market trends. You can find more of Holly's thoughts on Twitter @HollyAWelles.