When patients spend long periods of time in the hospital, it can be emotionally challenging. The sterile environment, lack of familiarity and the stress of a medical procedure can contribute to lingering anxiety.
To combat these factors, some patients bring homey items like their favorite pillow or bedsheets to help them sleep more comfortably and keep a sense of normalcy during their stay. Others turn to music, books and spirituality for comfort during a difficult trial. For hospital staff, a recent study showed that maintaining a strong sense of connection to people also helps improve patient outcomes. To do so, hospitals need to design rooms for three distinct functions: calming and comforting patients; providing efficiency in caring for patients; and offering space for family and visitors to sit or sleep without disturbing the attending team’s workflow and patient care.
Smart hospital rooms are designed to meet all of these needs. They’re also built for patient safety by incorporating latent conditions and active failures that can cause harm. The following is an example of how the design of a single-patient room addresses these requirements.
The first feature of the smart hospital room is a designated “staff zone.” This area, located near the entrance to the room, is designed to encourage efficient staff movement and prevent interruptions to patient care by people entering and exiting the room. It includes a desk, chair and couch that can be moved out of the way in an emergency. The zone also includes a sink for nurses, doctors and all other staff to wash their hands after touching patients.
The treatment zone is next to the staff zone, with ample space around the patient’s bed for nursing and other medical procedures. It also includes a ceiling-integrated lift for transferring patients and a table that can be pulled out from the wall when necessary. These features help reduce the need for transfers between rooms or units, which increases the risk of error and is stressful to patients.
A final feature is a white communication board, visible from the bed, that provides important information for the patient and their family, including names of the nursing and physician teams and a list of the goals or activities for each day. It also displays the room’s temperature and light controls.
Lastly, the patient’s own personal space is included in the room with space to store belongings, a safe to secure valuables and a comfortable chair or sofa for visiting family members. This area can also be used to display a TV with basic health education and entertainment channels, such as the Continuous Ambient Relaxation Environment (C.A.R.E) channel, which combines soothing video scenes of nature with soothing music. This tool has been shown to positively impact patients’ experiences in the hospital and contribute to a more successful recovery at home.