Why to design better healthcare facilities?

We don’t necessarily think from the view of end-users and stakeholders when designing new facilities. Patient flows (and streamlining their movement) is as critical as designing buildings that have a positive impact on the staff. Interestingly, the dominant narrative now is “pre-coving and post-covid” (and ongoing pandemic). Nevertheless, here’s something from HBR:

Designing Hospitals that Promote Staff Wellbeing

Designing buildings for the well-being of health care staff is not just necessary to curb the mental health crisis among the profession. It’s also critical to buttress the financial fallout that ensues with high turnover, preventing additional strain on a system already taxed from financial losses due to differed treatment during the pandemic. During Covid, hospitals have seen increased rates of turnover among employees, which is both costly to morale and the bottom line. According to Becker’s Hospital Review, in 2020, the turnover rate for registered nurses increased 2.8 percentage points to 18.7% industry-wide. Each percentage point change translates to approximately $270,000 lost or saved per hospital.

So, there is an economic cost to staff turnover. Institutions not investing in human resources will eventually lose from the loss of “institutional memory”. A high turnover is bad for the organisation, and those stuck in the hierarchical process are either mediocre or lack of opportunities (or a combination of other factors). Still, the HBR write up pushes the idea of “inclusive spaces” and glass lined buildings. As again, more than the aesthetics, it boils down to patient flow, healthcare processes, and time spent with clinicians to discuss their issues. If patients have to juggle multiple modes of payment or reach out to billing counters repeatedly, it is an awful design experience.

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