How Hospitals are Using Design and Flow to Become More Efficient

Mar 20, 2017

hospital waiting room

Hospitals have turned to using design tricks and trends to improve patient health. Now they are turning to similar principles to help themselves with another key area of healthcare: efficiency.

To see more patients, and get more out of their existing staff, administrators are redesigning their spaces and implementing new workflow standards. As experts predict that nursing shortages will worsen in many states throughout 2017, these changes are a key focus when designing or redesigning hospitals.

Rethinking Facility Layouts

Hospitals that are newly built, or are ambitious enough to go through large-scale remodels, are testing new ways in which they can rely on staff input and studies to improve efficiency. By following the steps of nurses throughout the day, researchers have found that nurses are walking miles a day to treat patients and obtain necessary supplies.

In order to cut down on the amount of steps they take, they often turn to cutting through central staff workstations to get to their destination. These work areas are often meant for focused work (discharges, paperwork, etc.), which is being disrupted by constant foot traffic. Architects are now looking for ways to relocate key destination like patient rooms, medication/supply closets, etc., allowing nurses to circumnavigate workstations while still getting to their destinations in fewer steps.

Rethinking Patient Locations

The concept of patient locations plays both into efficient design and workflow. Hospitals are rethinking how they locate patients. Those who need frequent care and medications can be located closer to supply rooms and nursing stations. Multi-patient rooms are also being used to group patients who are under the care of the same nurse (who can be treating up to seven or more patients at a time). This results in both a better flow of supplies and treatment while cutting down on travel time for nurses.

Rethinking the Flow of Information

There is a lot of time to be saved when it comes to patient flow, particularly in terms of how information is presented to patients and their families. When patients are well informed, they are far less likely to call for a nurse to inquire about certain information such as:

  • Upcoming procedures

  • Pain medication schedules

  • Daily goals

  • Discharge dates

  • Physician information

Every time a nurse is redirected due to a patient call, they lose time due to travel and patient interaction. Many facilities are solving this issue by implementing the use of hospital dry erase boards in patient rooms. When used as communication boards, these tools can be effective in relaying important information to patients when a nurse is not present. These whiteboards can also be used internally by nurses to communicate with one another regarding patient care. Studies have shown that nurses valued the information whiteboards and used them to improve the process of patient care and increase teamwork.

When used as communication tools, both among nurses and between patients and care teams, whiteboards can increase efficiency and create a more effective workflow for nurses. To learn how they can be implemented into your facility, contact the VividBoard team today.