Confronting the Most Challenging Design Issues in Healthcare Facilities

Sep 30, 2019

hospital hallway

Design in healthcare — whether architectural or interior  is filled with challenges that constrict, complicate and dictate how facilities should look and operate. This leaves a small window of creativity for designers and architects who are required to balance the needs of healthcare facilities and their patients and the industry regulations in place, all while trying to make each facility an innovative, one-of-a-kind place that matches a company’s unique brand. 

Having said all that, it’s a wonder that many modern facilities are able to encompass everything that is required to be placed into them. It’s a challenge, both from a design and build standpoint, but it’s one that the healthcare field has risen to meet.  

What are some of the most pressing challenges in the healthcare design industry? There are several that dictate how every facility is laid out and constructed. 

Patient Access and Satisfaction 

It’s not surprising that the patient is the deciding factor in how facilities are designed, and challenges regarding patient access are right at the top of the list. Patient satisfaction in their hospital stay (and thus their HCAHPS scores) are heavily contingent on the access they have to many things: 

- Hospital amenities (entertainment, common areas, bathrooms, etc.) 

- Hospital staff (i.e. how easy it is to get ahold of providers) 

- Information (do they have access to their treatment plans, discharge goals, etc.) 

- Family and friends (i.e. does the hospital make it easy and comfortable for visitors to stay) 


Healthcare designers must take care to ensure that hospitals are laid out so that it is easy for patients to access common areas, there is ample space for visitors, there is available wall space for patient room whiteboards and other communication tools, and patients have everything they need without having to go out of their way to get it. 

Patient privacy is also a large concern, which is why single patient rooms have become the normal layout for modern hospitals. Private patient rooms help patients rest more comfortably and are linked to better patient/provider communication rates. 

Patient Safety 

Nosocomial infections (hospital acquired infections) and falls are the leading causes of inpatient injuries in the U.S., which is why hospitals are intricately designed to prevent infections and reduce patient falls at every turn. The methods of reducing infections (by design) include: 

- Private patient rooms 

- Sealable ventilation systems 

- Sanitation station placement at every door and in every room 

- Glass and non-porous surfaces 

- Simple room designs that are easy to clean and disinfect (i.e. rooms that do not have excessive amounts of corners, nooks, crannies, etc.) 

When it comes to preventing patient falls, hospitals designers turn to: 

- Extra wide doorways that make it easier for patients to use assistive walking devices (particularly bathroom doors in patient rooms) 

- Nursing stations located in areas where they can visibly see into many or most patient rooms 

- Handrails and other wall-mounted safety devices 

- Patient rooms that are designed to discourage patients from getting out of bed (i.e. placing all necessary objects and storage within reach of the bed. 

Budget & Branding 

Healthcare designers often operate on razor-thin budgets and heavy branding guidelines that include everything from colors to imagery, wayfinding, room shape and so much more. That’s why customization is so important when it comes to the products that designers recommend facilities purchase. When specific brand guidelines need to be followed, and projects are placed on a budget, it’s essential to find the right companies who can work with designers to create customizable products that fit a facility’s budget and design requirements. 

Taking One Thing Off the Minds of Designers 

There is a lot to consider when designing a facility, which is why Ghent Healthcare works with designers to remove the issues surrounding key communication tool placed in most hospitals across the country: patient rooms whiteboards. Ghent Healthcare creates customizable whiteboards that align with a facility's brand, patient clientele, treatment options and more. We make it easy to design and build a customized whiteboard communication solution for any facility. 


Contact Ghent Healthcare to Learn More About Our Customizable Whiteboards