Winston Churchill once said, “We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.” There is perhaps no other sector of facility design that has championed this proclamation more than the healthcare industry. Evidence-Based Design (EBD) is demonstrating the value of smart design decisions in shaping positive results. EBD strategies can influence patient outcomes, reduce patient and visitor stress, increase staff productivity and provide a significant reduction in hospital acquired infections.
Why Evidence-Based Design?
Evidence-Based Design is intended to provide return on your investment. EBD goals include reducing medication errors and reducing the average length of stay. Each facility has its unique set of requirements and constraints. Each will require a tailored approach. The goal for the design team is to intelligently interpret the research and apply it to project goals and constraints, or develop their own hypothesis and publish the results.
If It Were Easy, Everyone Would Do It
Committing to an EBD approach on your project brings inherent challenges. To get on the right track, start with design professionals who have made the commitment to study EBD and have become credentialed (distinguished by the EDAC appellation). Many design professionals understand the terms and concepts, but have not applied the practical side.
Cost is another significant challenge. Facilities that incorporate EBD principles will often require a larger initial investment. Private rooms, for instance, are more expensive to build than semi-private, although the value to the hospital is the reduction in the rate of nosocomial infections and medical errors. It is important for the design team to make the business case and calculate the return on investment.
It's All About Adding Value
Through increased staff efficiency and improved workflow, EBD helps to create an environment that can promote efficient staff processes and a higher quality of care. One idea where EBD achieves efficient workflow is through decentralization. With this concept, nurses, physicians and medical supplies are brought closer to the patient by distributing supplies and staff throughout the unit rather than consolidating them in one location. Additionally, EBD facilities can be more attractive to healthcare professionals seeking employment, since the design enhances workflow and provides a higher value on workplace satisfaction.
With additional studies and research being completed with more frequency, EBD is undoubtedly gaining momentum. With the knowledge of research that supports specific design initiatives, there will soon be an obligation to use it in the same way that we expect our physicians to diagnose a condition – apply the research and best practices in order to achieve the best outcome.
For more on how an Evidence-Based Design approach can be applied to your facility, feel free to read my other blogs on the subject:
If you'd like to have a conversation about implementing a EBD pilot project or to schedule a brief lunch and learn presentation, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (502) 585-4181.