As civilisation battles through an unceasing threat of viral upsurges, healthcare providers across the country are beginning to acknowledge the significance of healthcare analytics and other crucial metrics such as patient recovery rates. Subsequently, it has become evident that access to these parameters can help optimize patient turn-around which would allow for higher resilience against adversities such as Covid-19. The acknowledgement of patient recovery rates as a crucial metric is still in its nascent stages in India. In contrast, the west has a much higher degree of data and awareness on this phenomenon, that can potentially help us understand its relevance in the Indian subcontinent.
As several Evidence-based studies suggest, patient recovery rates are a rationale of several factors, including high efficacy infection control, ingress of natural light and views to outside, controlled acoustics and friendly caregivers. Interestingly, healthcare facility design has a significant role in ensuring the success of these factors.
According to the National Guidelines of Infection Control, 30% of all ICU patients in developed countries are affected by an HAI (Hospital Acquired Infection) during the course of their hospital stay. The percentages are expected to be even higher in lower- and middle-income countries. In addition, a growing body of evidence demonstrates that the built environment of healthcare settings – their layouts, materials, equipment and furnishings, and consequently healthcare architects play a vital role in preventing the transmission of pathogens.IHFG (Indian Health Facility Guidelines) recommends a minimum distance of 2.45 metres between beds for maintaining asepsis – an environment free of disease-causing microorganisms. Additionally, evidence-based design (EBD) studies have also found patients in single rooms are at a significantly lower risk of acquiring HAIs. Further, ante rooms with efficient mechanical systems with ACH (air changes per hour) conformity can minimise the spread of infections. Similarly, another study suggests that strategically located hand-wash sinks and hand sanitisers (especially near patient areas) have promoted handwashing amongst the caregivers – enabling better infection control within the facility.Besides innovation and upheaval in medical technology, the design of the medical facility also impacts patient recovery. A study conducted in 2018, ‘The effects of natural daylight on length of hospital stay’ (PubMed), found that patients with beds near the windows had significantly shorter hospital stays than patients with beds near the door, in a sample size of 87,351 patients. Optimal natural light and views to the outside have been found to stimulate patients’ positive immune responses, resulting in expedited recovery. EBD studies have also found slower recovery rates in patient rooms oriented towards the west, perhaps due to a patient’s psychological and circadian responses to the optics of a setting sun. Additionally, larger windows with potential views of nature promote biophilia along with the therapeutic effects of nature.
- Acoustics and stress and caregiver satisfaction
Environmental acoustics are one of the most prevalent stressors in healthcare facilities today. The ramifications of poor acoustics affect both the patients and caregivers alike. In hospitals and respite environments, a patient’s recovery is heavily dependent on the quality of sleep. Patient recovery becomes difficult when operating without adequate noise control measures or consideration for acoustics and noise transfer issues as sleep is more disturbed. Disruptions and poor sleep quality ultimately cause a noticeable reduction in healing. Interestingly, controlled acoustics also minimises stress amongst the caregivers, enabling them to better focus on the patients’ individual needs, eliminate medical errors, and render quality care. Employing the right materials and finishes, like sound-absorbing ceiling tiles along with strategic spatial planning can result in minimising stress and overall patient and caregiver satisfaction.
The design of the built environment, especially hospitals and medical facilities, is undoubtedly one of the most significant factors of patient health, safety and experience. Today, healthcare architects are using principles of evidence-based design along with the learnings from the pandemic to push the boundaries of conventional hospitals in order to create safe and healing environments.
Ravideep Singh, Associate Director, Creative Designer Architects
(DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and ETHealthworld does not necessarily subscribe to it. ETHealthworld.com shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person / organisation directly or indirectly.)