The Role of the Physical Environment in the Hospital of the 21st Century
This once-in-lifetime construction program provides an opportunity to rethink hospital design, and especially to consider how improved hospital design can help reduce staff stress and fatigue and increase effectiveness in delivering care, improve patient safety, reduce patient and family stress and improve outcomes and improve overall healthcare quality.
In this project, research teams from Texas A&M University and Georgia Tech combed through several thousand scientific articles and identified more than 600 studies—most in top peer-reviewed journals—that establish how hospital design can impact clinical outcomes. The team found scientific studies that document the impact of a range of design characteristics, such as single-rooms versus multi-bed rooms, reduced noise, improved lighting, better ventilation, better ergonomic designs, supportive workplaces and improved layout that can help reduce errors, reduce stress, improve sleep, reduce pain and drugs, and improve other outcomes. The team discovered that, not only is there a very large body of evidence to guide hospital design, but a very strong one. A growing scientific literature is confirming that the conventional ways that hospitals are designed contributes to stress and danger, or more positively, that this level of risk and stress is unnecessary: improved physical settings can be an important tool in making hospitals safer, more healing, and better places to work.
Roger Ulrich*, Xiaobo Quan, Center for Health Systems and Design, College of Architecture, Texas A&M University Craig Zimring*, Anjali Joseph, Ruchi Choudhary, College of Architecture, Georgia Institute of Technology