Does Better Design Make for Better Health?

published 8 years ago by Zocalo Public Square

Hospitals and clinics are not generally considered well-designed places for today’s healthcare needs. Work spaces for doctors and nurses can be crowded, too close to patient treatment areas, and missing new technology that would streamline care. At hospitals, patient rooms often lack windows or privacy. They can be cramped and far from waiting areas and cafeterias, making it more difficult to visit easily with family. But a growing number of hospitals and clinics are taking design and architecture into consideration with an eye toward patient outcomes and quality of care. The shifts have been shown to aid recovery, boost morale, decrease hospital-caused infections that can cost billions of dollars a year, calm patients, and create better communication between doctors, nurses, families, and patients. They have also helped clinics expand their services beyond primary care. Could good design make for good health, and save money in the process? Zócalo invited journalist Dana Dubbs, James Theimer, principal architect and founder of the Redding firm of Trilogy Architecture, Robin Orr, a board member of the Center for Health Design, and Mary Dee Hacker, Vice President of Patient Care Services of the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, to explore how medical care environments harm us, and how they could help us.

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