November 15, 2010
Reports are in from those with Herman Miller Healthcare who attended this year’s Healthcare Design 2010 event in Las Vegas. There was a lot of enthusiasm about the products shown in our booth, including the Compass system and Nemschoff’s Dex guest chair.
The booth experience is one way we were able to provide insight into how Herman Miller Healthcare and its subsidiaries Nemschoff and Brandrud are bringing a new voice to healthcare.
Thanks to everyone who was able to stop by!
Better World, Healthcare
November 12, 2010
Back in September, Herman Miller Healthcare announced the names of those selected for its 2010 scholarship program for intern architects.
As part of the scholarship program, the company will sponsor the attendance of nine individuals at this year’s Healthcare Design conference in Las Vegas, November 13-16.
I thought it would be fun to catch-up with the scholarship recipients before the conference to find out what interests them about healthcare design and architecture. And, because creating a better world is important to Herman Miller, I specifically asked them how they think healthcare design and architecture can contribute to a better world.
Check out their thoughts about the subject:
Visions in Architecture, Lincoln, NE
It is in a designer’s best interest to provide value to healthcare architecture—value created with better design through increased collaboration, new techniques and time for reflection. Future designers will need all three if they are to create a better world.
October 27, 2010
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend the Design Research Conference hosted by the Interdisciplinary Design Institute of Washington State University.
I heard several presentations about the latest research surrounding architectural and environmental design for health care environments, but one story from a keynote speaker has stayed with me. It focused on how our total health goes beyond our physical health, and how biophelia—a love for the natural world—plays a large role in it.
Interior designer Barbara Huelat, with Huelat Parimucha Ltd., asked the audience to think about the last time they really felt alive and energized. She then asked us to raise our hands if that experience was in nature and about 90 percent of the hands went up. Mine did, too.
Biophilia is a familiar concept to me and Herman Miller Healthcare, but Huelat’s story is a powerful reminder of the restorative power of nature.
October 21, 2010
Because almost all of our Herman Miller Healthcare products are used by nurses, we believe it’s important to be aware of research that could affect their work.
As the largest segment of the healthcare workforce, nurses will continue to play a key role in overcoming challenges and fulfilling the promises of our rapidly changing healthcare system.
The latest research about the nursing comes from the Institute of Medicine in a report called The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health.
Four key recommendations emerged from the report:
• Nurses should practice to the full extent of their education and training.
• Nurses should achieve higher levels of education and training through an improved education system that promotes seamless academic progression.
• Nurses should be full partners, with physicians and other health professionals, in redesigning health care in the United States.
• Effective workforce planning and policy making require better data collection and an improved information infrastructure.
Judging by the number of healthcare media references, The Future of Nursing report has started an important conversation about the role of nurses in providing care.
This report will also inform our conversations with customers about environments such as patient rooms and unit cores and how they will support nurses in the future.
September 23, 2010
If the current methods of healthcare delivery remain unchanged, treating chronic diseases will elevate healthcare spending and insurance costs to unforeseen levels. Chronic illness currently accounts for 75 percent of our global healthcare spending and is the leading cause of death and disability. By 2030, two out of three Americans will be living with a chronic condition.
Our current system of healthcare delivery is not organized to treat those with chronic conditions holistically. More efficient and cost-effective healthcare management calls for new approaches to our current model of siloed and fragmented care delivery.
Improving patient self-care, building teams of care providers that are accountable as a team, and introducing tools of technology to better communicate and share information, all guided by clinical leadership that wants to change, are required in order to shift from a siloed, fragmented system to an integrated, cooperative—and sustainable—one.
September 15, 2010
According to the The Journal of Nursing Administration, “Nurses tend to overlook their physical environment and ‘do their job.’”
This is unfortunate because the physical environment should assist nurses, as well as doctors, patients, and other staff, with doing their jobs. And it should adapt to them when those jobs change.
Herman Miller Healthcare is continuing to research this issue by listening to those who work in healthcare environments and experience problems and workarounds when doing their jobs. It’s important to ensure that any solution we develop supports them and has a positive impact on their job satisfaction.
Photo via: workingnurse.com
September 9, 2010
Anyone over the age of 45 knows that things happen as we age. Reading glasses sometimes make an appearance, as do sore knees after exercise or a stiff back in the morning.
Nurses are particularly aware of the effects of aging. The average age of U.S. nurses happens to be 46.8–the highest of all occupations in the world. Years of lifting and moving patients, and walking several miles during every shift, take a toll. Nursing also ranks among the top occupations for work-related back injuries—more than coal mining and manufacturing.
It is possible, however, to make nurse environments safer and more efficient. For example, the design of the central core unit—an area where nurses gather supplies, medications, check patient records, and consult with coworkers—is a good place to start.
Providing better lighting for reading prescriptions and locating medications, supplies, and equipment, and placing these items within arms length will reduce strenuous bending and reaching. Smart floor layouts also will reduce the amount of walking and give nurses more time to be with patients.
These steps will have a positive impact on the satisfaction and performance of nurses and address the particular realities of an aging workforce.
August 25, 2010
Respite areas within healthcare environments for patients and families are becoming popular features. But what about creating respite areas for nurses?
Healthcare environments can be very stressful and exhausting environments. And, because of the nursing shortage, there is a tremendous incentive to recruit and retain valuable staff. Creating healing environments for nurses is a powerful tool to aid that effort.
Places of healing and respite might be as simple as including discrete areas within the nursing unit to sit and take a deep breath. Sometimes, however, nurses just need a place to get away.
Creating a single occupancy respite room would allow staff to recharge the spirit, rejuvenate the body, and replenish the soul. No televisions or phones. Possible soothing features would include a lounge chair, aromatherapy, a water feature, dimmable lighting, and soft music.
These respite spaces must be thoughtfully and adequately programmed so that staff has room to breathe. And just like we provide access to natural light for our patients and families, we must also give our nurses this same caring treatment. Some staff spaces are being designed with access to outdoor space adjacent to the staff lounge. Having space to be outdoors where nurses can get a breath of fresh air can be very curative.
As designers of healthcare environments, we have a fabulous opportunity to be the change agents—and create healing environments that will help recruit and retain nurses.
August 18, 2010
Medication errors are a major problem for healthcare providers. This is the result of several factors, many of which stem from nurses working harder than ever for longer hours and with sicker patients. Plus, their environments are often stressful and inefficient.
My recent job shadow of a nurse brought this situation home to me. There are several ways to make healing environments more safe and efficient. When it comes to medications, the best approach is to decentralize them to the patient room.
Nurses face frequent interruptions when they’re working. According to a recent study, those interruptions lead to medication errors. I observed this first-hand when my nurse encountered several interruptions during his shift. Securely storing medications near the patient would help to eliminate interruptions—especially those that occur between the med room and the patient room.
This move also would reduce nurse travel distances. Nurses typically walk long distances to the med room—my nurse accessed the med room 38 times in eight hours!
When nurses are retrieving medications from the med room, they have to wait to access the automated medication dispensing machine. Storing medications at the patient room would eliminate that wasted time spent waiting and would enable nurses to spend more time with their patients.
And then there’s waiting for the nurse to return from the med room. While nurses are waiting to access the automated medication dispensing machine, patients are waiting for them. This isn’t a good situation, particularly if the patient is in pain.
Storing medications in the patient room is part of creating flexible and adaptable environments for nurses. We architects must create spaces for nurses that help them deliver quality care.
August 11, 2010
In last week’s blog post, I recommended decentralizing supplies and equipment to the patient room based on my job shadow of a nurse. This week, the focus moves to cleaning equipment inside the patient room.
Unfortunately, patients acquire about 1.7 million infections in U.S. hospitals every year. As a result, there is an increasing need to apply strategies for infection prevention.
One strategy, for example, stems from the fact that sicker patients require more equipment. At the very least, an IV pole and pump should be standard equipment in every patient room—and cleaned there, too.
The traditional equipment cleaning process includes pushing it throughout the hospital to another department for cleaning. This means that a potentially contaminated item could be moving throughout the hospital. This isn’t a good idea.
Hospital staff already clean the patient’s bed, overbed table, bedside stand, and family furniture in the patient room. Adding equipment to the list would remove several steps from the equipment cleaning process. It also would improve operational savings and infection prevention rates.
Keeping and cleaning equipment in the patient room would significantly reduce staff travel distances, too, and eliminate hunting and gathering. And, it would allow nurses more time for their primary passion–taking care of their patients.