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Clinical Consulting: Hospital Construction Survey Affirms Rise in Clinical Voice: Designing for Efficiency and Staff Workflow

| Debbie Gregory

Every year, when Health Facilities Management and the American Society for Healthcare Engineering of the American Hospital Association release their Hospital Construction Survey results, I am always intrigued about what it will reveal.

The 2017 report is out, and I’m happy to see the connection between designing healthcare facilities and the clinical workflow highlighted. Hospitals are going to greater lengths to seek input from clinical and nonclinical stakeholders to shape new designs and processes from inception. The 2017 Survey focuses on how hospitals that plan to launch new construction or renovation projects are involving staff in the design process to address inefficiencies, improve patient care and adapt space to a facility’s changing needs.  For the first time in the history of this survey, there were questions about staff input on design, and design impact on staff efficiency.

This truly validates the hard work of so many involved in the Nursing Institute for Healthcare Design (NIHD). This recent survey aligns with the NIHD Mission, “To engage and integrate clinical expertise into the planning and design of healthcare environments.”

In the survey, questions related to staff inclusion in the design process, designing for staff efficiency, and design features that improve efficiency demonstrate a new level of interest and importance in the clinical voice.  Clinical input serves as a critical driver in hospital design and construction, and that these questions were included in this year’s survey shows a growing recognition of this best practice. The survey asked, “How are staff included in the design process?” The responses for “Offer feedback prior to design development,” and “Offer feedback as designs are being developed” were 72% and 87%, respectively.  Again, the inclusion of the clinical voice appears to be gaining respect and validation.

In the section, “Designing for staff efficiency,” there appears to be a recognition that the construction and design industry is actively responding to the call of the clinicians to create spaces that help, rather than hinder, the delivery of care.  One question in this section asked respondents to list “Design features included to improve efficiency” that had been implemented during construction this past year. Among many features, respondents listed standardization throughout the facility (67%), collaborative work spaces (39%) and decentralized stations (33%), which reflects historic desires from nurses regarding design changes that would make their jobs easier.

This is an exciting “Landmark Report,” in my opinion. To some this may seem a natural progression in the healthcare design and construction industry, but to many who have been advocating for this inclusion for years – this is a momentous occasion!

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