Tag Archives: Healthcare Environmental Design

Don’t Overlook the Importance of Healthcare Environmental Design and the Patient Experience

by Mike Reid, Vice President, Construction, Capital and Facility Services, and Tom Wessling, Vice President, Nutrition, Environmental Services, Contracting Operations

Only two of the questions on the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey deal directly with the physical healthcare environment, but the fact is that all facility surroundings impact the patient experience.

Because the survey is instrumental in producing data so that consumers can make objective and meaningful comparisons of hospitals, creating incentives for hospitals to improve quality of care and enhance public accountability by increasing transparency, it is important for facility administrators to understand ALL the factors that go into facility experience in order to maximize their scores. 

Does your healthcare facility’s safety culture include a comprehensive system approach to becoming an HCAHPS performance leader? What are some ways to ensure that your entire healthcare team thoroughly understands their role in consistently making each patient’s care an “always” experience—one that leads to the best and safest outcomes, as well as the highest HCAHPS scores?

In a recent survey, more than 69 percent of facility directors surveyed said that because of HCAHPS they had implemented programs to upgrade foodservice in their facilities. Several Intalere members who submitted projects around their foodservice improvements for the Intalere Healthcare Achievement Awards reported much higher patient satisfaction scores once the projects were implemented.

One of the biggest hits a facility can take to its patient satisfaction scores relates to sound – too much, too loud, too disconcerting (alarms), etc. “Quietness” generally ranks as the lowest of all HCAHPS scores at 61 percent. The positive effects of sound mitigation through better choices around fabric, floorcovering, wallcovering, acoustic ceiling tiles, white noise generators and others can bring substantial ROI.

Also, a recent study found that patients with a window looking at leafy green trees generally heal one day faster, need significantly less pain meds and have fewer post-surgical complications. Similarly, indoor plants and landscaping are considered a positive distraction, increasing positive feelings while reducing stress.

Finally, it’s been found that healthcare environmental services (EVS) workers have a substantial impact on the overall perception of cleanliness. Intalere member Fairfield Medical Center designed a program not only focused on ensuring the cleanliness of the patient rooms, but also the courtesy of the EVS workers, as patient feedback indicated that the patient experience and comfort with the housekeeper had a substantial impact on the overall perception of cleanliness and the technical competence of the staff.

EVS staff members were tested on their cleaning effectiveness and patient interaction. The top third performers in terms of patient interaction were identified and workflow was reallocated to keep those performers heavily involved in daily patient interaction. The top performers were reassigned to units with the most lagging scores for cleanliness and courtesy of the housekeeper, and improved results were immediate.

To learn more about healthcare environmental design and the patient experience, check out this infographic, which highlights vital areas that should be a part your healthcare environmental planning.