5 Ways Evidence-Based Design Adds Value to Hospitals

Evidence-based design has become the fastest growing trend in healthcare development. In EBD, decisions about the built environment are based on credible research that will, in turn, create the most efficient outcome. Here are five ways EBD saves costs and adds value to hospitals.

1. Enhances patient safety. Private rooms, which are steadily becoming mainstream for hospitals, can reduce infections, minimize stress and improve quality of sleep. Preventing one hospital acquired infection can increase patient satisfaction, reduce cost of care and, most importantly, save a life, according to John Thomas, executive vice president of the Medical Facilities Group of Health Care REIT, a real estate investment trust. A study at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo, Mich., found private rooms, with improved air-flow design and well-located sinks, decreased HAIs by 11 percent, according to a New York Times report.

Another EBD trend that promotes safety is a "family zone." By placing family zones in patient rooms, relatives are encouraged to participate in the individual’s care and offer closer observation, which is found to reduce the number of patient falls. Studies have also shown that using proper sound-absorbing ceiling tiles lowers blood pressure and heart rates, reducing the incidence of readmission. “These design decisions, based on credible research, resulted in optimal outcomes,” says Mr. Thomas.

2. Reduces medical errors. By placing a small, locked cabinet in patient rooms, medication administration becomes quick, efficient and accurate.  These “decentralized” medication storage areas contain only the prescribed medications for that one individual. Clarian Health Partners in Indianapolis replaced its multi-level ICU with variable-acuity adaptable rooms, which resulted in a nearly 70 percent decrease in medication errors. Variable-acuity rooms provide different levels of care in one room to minimize patient transfers from one space to another, which can occur as often as three to six times in a patient’s hospital stay. The 90 percent reduction in transfers at Clarian decreased hospital expenses and reduced medical errors while boosting patient satisfaction and staff productivity.

3. Decreases patient need for medication. Various EBD implementations have been shown to influence patient medication consumption. Natural light, for example, has been linked to reducing medication costs by 21 percent, according to researchers from The Center of Health Design. Views of the outdoors have the ability to elicit positive emotions and distract patients from pain, consequentially reducing the use of pain medications. Less medication consumption may indicate that a patient can be discharged sooner, maximizing reimbursement and avoiding potential Medicare penalties and commercial payor denials.

4. Reduces staff injuries. The leading cause of staff back injuries is lifting and transferring patients.  Implementation of ceiling lifts can greatly reduce these injuries, resulting in financial gain with the reduced cost of claims and lost workdays for staff. Sacred Heart Medical center at RiverBend in Springfield, Ore., installed patient lifts and found staff injuries from patient handling were nearly eliminated, according to a New York Times report. The lifts were said to have paid for themselves within two years due to the reduced costs of employee injury compensation claims, according to an official cited in the report.

5. Increases staff efficiency through improved workflow. EBD helps create a space that can promote efficient workflow and quality care. One method EBD achieves efficient workflow is through decentralized work stations, which bring nurses, physicians and supplies closer to patients by distributing stations throughout the unit rather than consolidating them in one location. Mr. Thomas says EBD facilities are extremely attractive to healthcare professionals, since the design enhances workflow and increases workplace satisfaction, making EBD a consistent tool for recruitment and retention.  

Learn more about Healthcare REIT.

Read more about hospital design and development:

-8 Trends in Hospital Design and Development

-10 Hospitals Currently Undergoing Expansion and Renovation

-Hospital Construction Financing After the Recession: Q&A With Malcolm Sina of The DASCO Companies


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