This is the last post in our NHIT week series. You can check out the start of the series here.
A visit to the hospital is often a stressful event and at the very least, you would think a hospital would help patients to heal, rest, and recover. However, it’s quite often the opposite, and most patients feel incredibly stressed by hospital rooms. Over the past decade, there has been a tremendous amount of research done across the world by leading academic medical centers, like Princeton University Medical Center, the University of Technology in Sweden, and USC on the impact of the hospital room on patients.
A good chunk of the research on this topic is centered around redesigning patient rooms, making them private, more modern, less cluttered, and quieter. While this redesign of hospital rooms seems like the best solution to promote healing, the question that keeps popping into my head is, “How will every hospital be able to afford this?” The quick answer is, they won’t.
Hospitals are one of the most expensive facilities to build and run, constantly keeping up with regulations and safety codes, hiring new doctors and staff members, purchasing new technology, and keeping afloat in the competitive market. Where will the money come from to redesign hospital rooms?
For most hospitals, especially critical access and community hospitals, this is the lowest item on the totem pole. However, solutions can sometimes be quite simple. In the article, Better Healing From Better Hospital Design by Yuhgo Yamaguchi, several studies are highlighted that have found how when hospitals provide elements of nature – whether a physical garden, images, or peaceful music – patients have experienced reduced stress and faster recovery times. Creating this type of space, putting up pictures of trees and having the sounds of nature playing through the hospital rather than loud beeping noises and machines, make the patient and their family feel more at peace.
In pediatric hospitals, there has been a push to use imagery to create a friendlier environment as well. Some of the small but productive changes made in imaging suites, like adding pictures of popular TV and book characters to the walls and on the machines, have helped to reduce the need for anesthesia and redundant imaging.
Changes to the hospital room do not have to be expensive after all. Just a bit of creativity is all that’s needed.