10 Hospital Room Design Details that Help Patients

Dec 13, 2017

patient room in hospital

There is a certain hierarchy of major goals that must be achieved with every patient room design. First and foremost, patient rooms must foster the safety and comfort of patients. Safety is of the utmost importance, but patient comfort has also proven to be directly tied to their perception of "good care." It's clear that a hospital's environment has become a major player in patient satisfaction. Even the smallest changes to a patient room can result in higher HCAHPS scores and inevitably better patient care.

When designing a patient room, focus on these details:

#1 Color

The colors present in healthcare environments go far beyond simple aesthetics. Cool colors are recognized to have a calming effect, which can help to ease patient anxiety. These colors can include blues, greens and shades of purple. Yellow, orange and red, on the other hand, can cause people to feel more anxious.

#2 Natural Light

Exposure to natural light has a whole host of benefits. It leads to more vitamin D storage, better moods and even has been shown to help you sleep. Hospitals recognize this, which is why many try to feature large windows in patient rooms that let in as much natural light as possible.

#3 Views of Nature

Having large windows also leads to another crucial benefit: exposure to nature. For decades, studies have been conducted on the effects of nature on hospital patients. One study found that 95% of people who walked through a hospital's garden reported therapeutic effects. Other clinical data has shown that patients who could view trees through their windows had shorter postoperative hospital stays, fewer negative evaluative comments from nurses, took fewer moderate-to-strong analgesic doses, and had slightly lower scores for minor postsurgical complications.

#4 Hygiene

Infections are a major concern in hospitals, but the smallest details in a patient's room can help to combat them. When hand sanitizers and sinks are placed near the entrance of each room, patients, nurses and family members are much more likely to use them when entering and exiting a room. This helps to stop the spread of infection and disease. Another small detail that helps combat the spread of infections is to limit the amount of porous spaces in patient rooms, preventing the growth of bacteria. Glass is a great non-porous surface that is used to prevent the growth of bacteria, which is why it's so commonly used in products like hospital whiteboards.

#5 Furniture

Studies show that frequent and flexible visitation hours decrease patient anxiety, confusion and agitation. But visitors are more likely to visit more frequently and stay for longer periods of time if they are provided with seating (and even sleeping arrangements). Adding more seating in patient rooms and providing couches with pull-out beds is beneficial to both patients and their visitors.

#6 Soundproofing

One of the most common patient complaints is noise that disrupts them during the day and keeps them awake at night. One of the best things hospitals can do to combat this is to isolate patient rooms from outside noise. Acoustic wall panels and sound-absorbing ceiling tiles are becoming an almost necessary inclusion in modern patient rooms.

#7 Communication Boards

Another common patient complaint is feeling disengaged from their care. Patients have questions about their condition, upcoming procedures, their care team, medication and meal schedules and discharge dates and goals. Hospital whiteboards are a small, easy addition to any patient room that providers can use to communicate more effectively with their patients.

#8 Television

When patients are hospitalized for long periods of time, boredom can become a significant source of anxiety. Placing a television in each room can help occupy patients and keep them relaxed by taking their mind off of their condition. Soothing music can also be played from TV, which studies have shown to reduce stress, blood pressure and post-operative trauma.

#9 Wider Walkways and Doors

One of the top contributors to patient falls is when patients get up and make their way to the bathroom. Hospitals can help prevent these falls by limiting the amount of obstacles between patient beds and bathrooms. Wider doors also allow for family members and staff to help patients into and out of the bathroom when necessary.

#10 Private Rooms

When possible, all patient rooms should only be occupied by a single patient. When patients have their own private rooms, they are more likely to be satisfied with their care, communicate better with care teams and feel less anxious about their stay.