Have you ever walked into a hospital room and wondered, what is all this stuff? Hospital rooms are filled with peculiar lights, buttons, switches, cords, and miserably uncomfortable chairs. All this “noise” can be distracting to patients and providers alike. That’s why the Patient Safety Movement Foundation is working to redesign patient rooms to create a more streamlined, safe, and comfortable experience for all involved.
We’ve previously discussed that a huge push in pediatric imaging suites during the past few years has been to create a more “kid-friendly” environment, generally a space where children can feel more comfortable. Small changes in the imaging suite can reduce the need for anesthesia and for redundant imaging–improving patient experience and making the process easier for all parties. Decorating the imaging suite to make children feel more comfortable was largely adopted in pediatric imaging suites across the country when it was shown to be so successful. More and more hospitals are looking to make patient friendly changes throughout hospital rooms.
Long-term goals include establishing wireless monitors that will act as smartphones and can be connected to an app on the monitoring nurse’s tablet. In addition to monitors, infusion pumps, anesthesia machines and more could be tied to each patient’s electronic health record firing off warnings of life-threatening conditions when necessary. At the University of Vermont Medical Center, vitals go directly to the EHR allowing nurses to focus on patient care rather than note-taking and file-sorting. One communication gap frequently cited by nurses is that nursing data and clinical data often sit on separate IT systems and lack interoperability. Hospitals must move away from siloed systems to interoperable structures for patients, nurses, and providers to collaborate. Creating communication workflows can enhance the travel of information and make sure that crucial nurse notes are not being missed. In fact, it behooves a hospital to establish a strong electronic medical management system as 79 percent of job-seeking nurses polled say the reputation of the hospital’s EHR system is a “top three” consideration in their choice of where they will work.
Patient room 2020 at the DuPont Corian Design Studio in New York is a mock-up of a futuristic hospital room. For example, an LED light system changes color to signify that a clinician has washed their hands long enough. A tablet at the entrance of the room recognizes every physician or nurse that walks into the room through a RFID tag that then also automatically brings up the patient’s chart. Other changes include a ”smart” floor that can signal if the patient has gotten out of bed and could injure themselves. All of the medical equipment is fully integrated into the walls and is completely wireless, producing and clear and productive space for recovery.
“Patient rooms will be higher-acuity spaces,” predicts Andrew Quirk, senior vice president, Healthcare Center of Excellence at Skanska USA Building, a subsidiary of Swedish construction firm Skanska. He also notes that we should expect to see more outpatient surgeries and telemedicine. We’ve already seen how telemedicine can save time and money for patients, increase access to specialty providers, and increases referrals to the medical center itself.
In the wake of the Affordable Care Act, physicians are paid more for avoiding unnecessary procedures and long-hospital stays. By utilizing innovations in technology, a hospital can create a safe environment for patients that reduces the risk of medical errors, infections, readmissions, and wasted dollars on duplicative procedures. The focus can be on the patient receiving excellent medical care and having a comfortable stay at the hospital.