Five ways the patient room in hospitals should be changing

NXT Health, a non-profit that promotes change in the healthcare industry through sponsorship of design innovation, is the creator of the next-generation hospital room, Patient Room 2020. This interactive room is designed for a next-generation inpatient care environment that strives to improve patient experiences and optimize caregiver performance.

NXT Health worked with more than 35 product and service partners. We’re honored to have been one of those partners, providing the project management, permitting and construction estimates for the project. From the innovative designs of lighting experts, software developers, specialty glass manufacturers and custom fabricators, the Patient Room 2020 was built into a 400-square-foot prototype and is on display at DuPont’s Corian Design Studio in New York City.

We think this prototype shows at least five important trends that will influence inpatient rooms of the future. They include:

1)      Blending technology seamlessly: This prototype has what is called a ‘patient ribbon,’ an overhead canopy, above the patient’s bed, that incorporates life controls, an HVAC diffuser, lighting, audio controls, and a color halo. “Each part of that ribbon has been rethought to house as much technology as possible,” says Christopher Whitelaw, director of research and development at Evans and Paul, a partner in the Corian Design Studio and lead fabricator in Patient Room 2020. David Ruthven, principal designer of Patient Room 2020 calls it his “Swiss Army Knife.”  It also addresses the ability to change along with the sea of changes coming as a result of the ACA without the need for major changes to the built environment.  As an example, the ribbon facilitates the growing use of telemedicine.

2)      Providing the patient easy access to information and controls: A solid aluminum frame mounted on wheels combines two ubiquitous elements:  an over-bed table and a touchscreen tablet to form a single piece of mobile furniture that could be utilized in a wide range of healthcare settings. The hybrid tabletop provides room to eat on one side and a table on the other side, allowing the patient’s access to educational content, social networks and control of the temperature, audio and lighting in the room.

3)      Having a better bathroom: The prototype has an adaptable bathroom concept that features a sliding door system which can be reconfigured based on care needs. If a patient needs assistance in the bathroom, the expandable door will make the bathroom area larger to accommodate an assistant.

4)      Improving safety via the caregiver station: Imagine a workstation featuring integrated hand washing indicator lights and concealed accessories. The integrated LED light illuminates the sink in color – red if you have not washed your hands well, and green if you have.

5)      Creating a mobile caregiver hub: Caregivers have the flexibility to move around with a deployable bedside work area with embedded technology, simulated UV light sanitization and wireless device charging stations.

The project serves as an example of what design can do to address the complex challenges that face modern healthcare delivery. This effort was specifically for a patient room, but the reality is that many of the ideas and outcomes can find their way into the outpatient setting and even into your home.  Skanska is proud to be working on a project that values innovation, and the advancement of construction in the healthcare industry to benefit both patients and caregivers.

Check out images of the Patient Room 2020 in the slideshow below.

Andrew Quirk

Andrew Quirk

Skanska USA Senior Vice President and national director of Healthcare Center of Excellence

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How patient-centered medical homes can help both healthcare providers and patients

Beyond reducing the number of uninsured Americans, the Affordable Care Act is driving new types of healthcare facilities, especially patient-centered medical homes. PCMHs are spaces that support a team-based approach to patient care, with physicians, nurse practitioners and some specialists operating under one roof – a one-stop shop for patients. Through this collaborative approach, PCMHs enable better patient care and improve the efficiency of delivery.

But where might a PCMH work from a real estate perspective? And how might such an environment enhance the medical care being delivered within?

At Skanska, we’re seeing PCMHs work in a variety of settings, including:

1. On campus-solutions: This is the old model of medical office building combined with preventive care, education centers and diagnostics.

2. Retail settings: More clients are talking about going into vacant big box retail locations. This solution is exciting because you are going into a retail setting that is already established, has existing clientele, and the local healthcare provider’s name would be on the side of the building – a significant branding opportunity. One example of this is Vanderbilt Health in Nashville. Vanderbilt went into the space that once housed the One Hundred Oaks Mall, which was in decline and threatening to become another casualty of suburban blight, and transformed and rebranded it into a healthcare complex known as the Vanderbilt Health One Hundred Oaks.

3. Redevelopment of existing office space: In some areas, developers are coming out of the recession holding a lot of space, including office space, which is being repurposed for medical office use. There is not a lot to do to re-purpose– often, office space features a very nice, high-end entry that carries over to healthcare uses. It also requires a fairly low investment level (tenant build-out) with a faster return.

Patient-Centered Medical Home

Once the most appropriate site has been selected, the interior and technological approach to the PCMHs can also reap significant dividends, including:

1. Energy reduction: Energy presents one of the best and biggest opportunities for the healthcare industry to reduce costs with an efficient use of day-lighting, shared resources and better planning. With building types like PCMHs, we can really affect the amount of energy used in the healthcare industry.

2. Technology integration: Healthcare technology has rarely been incorporated directly into the built environment. For example: space is built for MRI or CT scans, but the building itself doesn’t fully integrate with such equipment.  As we move to hand-held devices, robotics and telemedicine, this becomes increasingly important. With PCMHs, it is possible to bring three or four physicians into a room with a patient with only one doctor physically present and the rest connected through video conferencing.

3. Medical records storage: We are starting to see is a reevaluation of all square footage– looking at an existing facility and making sure every square foot owned is generating revenue. The use of electronic medical records vacates spaces in the healthcare environment that could be revenue producing spaces.

The whole idea of the PCMH concept is that it goes beyond sharing files and equipment: to make everything patient centered while also decreasing overhead, and lowering initial capital costs. As a result, doctors can experience return on investment much faster and patients can receive more convenient care. This is where the industry is headed.


Andrew Quirk

Andrew Quirk

Skanska USA Senior Vice President and national director of Healthcare Center of Excellence

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