Findings from a new survey of healthcare executives and clinical practitioners reveal that while awareness of the benefits of evidence-based design is high, healthcare organizations are still in the early stages of putting these principles into practice. The survey, conducted by Healthcare Dive in conjunction with Ergotron, also found that stakeholders said they firmly believed both patient and caregiver experiences could be improved by leveraging evidence-based best practices to redesign the built environment.
Particularly in light of the current challenges the healthcare industry faces, including rising costs, staffing shortages and regulatory constraints, it’s becoming increasingly critical to put these design principles to use in real-world settings.
“When a healthcare organization has been doing things the same way for a long time, it can be challenging to make changes,” said Maya Ram, clinical specialist and healthcare showroom manager at Ergotron. “But clinician well-being and patient-care quality are interdependent, and it’s vital to take steps to gain forward momentum.”
The survey uncovered changing stakeholder perceptions, with growing numbers becoming aware that leveraging evidence-based design in healthcare facilities has the potential to improve comfort, staff productivity and physical and emotional well-being.
Additional key findings:
- Healthcare stakeholders are aware of the basic principles of evidence-based design and broadly agree its adoption would lead to significant improvements across their facilities. Ninety-five percent of survey participants reported that they’d at least heard of the concept, and more than half (53%) said they were very or extremely familiar with it. Ninety-two percent said they believed the design of the physical environment had a significant effect on patient health, while 96% agreed that making the right design choices could benefit employee health and well-being.
- Healthcare organizations are just beginning to put evidence-based design principles into practice. As many as 89% of respondents said their facilities had not yet fully adopted evidence-based design, though 44% said their organizations were beginning to do so, and an additional 21% reported that planning and discussion were underway to support future adoption. Only 13% of respondents already looked to evidence-based principles to guide medical equipment purchases or facility redesign planning.
- There’s a pressing need to update healthcare environments to help reduce stress and burnout among caregivers. Ninety-one percent of healthcare professionals said the physical ambience of their workplace had at least a moderate effect on their happiness at work, while 84% said it had at least a moderate effect on their effectiveness. Eighty-three percent said they believed redesigning work environments would have at least a moderate effect on clinician burnout.
- When it comes to patient experience, many environmental updates may help reduce stress and support healing. Far too many hospitals remain noisy, confusing to navigate or visually unattractive. Forty-one percent of respondents said patients frequently offered negative feedback about ambient noise, while an additional 39% said patients often reported that beds and other furnishings were uncomfortable. Sixty percent of respondents said that incorporating ergonomic design principles into beds and furnishings could have a major effect on the quality of care in their facilities, and 59% said the same of medical device designs.
What’s needed is not simply a redesign that prioritizes appearance over functionality. The principles of evidence-based design instead balance both form and function to meet the physical and emotional needs of patients and healthcare employees.
“Early on, Ergotron built ergonomic solutions for healthcare workers that were designed mostly for function and to help address physical problems like carpal tunnel syndrome or shoulder and back pain,” Ram said. “Over time, we realized that aesthetics are equally important because they contribute to caregivers’ psychological and emotional experience in the workplace. In evidence-based design, both function and appearance matter.”
More detailed findings are available in the survey report, titled “Adopting Evidence-Based Design in Healthcare: Prioritizing Patient-Centric Care and Improved Caregiver Experiences.”
The survey, fielded online, polled 158 healthcare executives — 82 with primarily clinical responsibilities and 76 with primarily administrative responsibilities. Conducted in the second quarter of 2022, the survey used an assortment of multiple-choice, Likert-scale and matrix questions to understand participants’ attitudes toward evidence-based design, as well as their organizations’ progress and priorities within its adoption. Most of the respondents (82%) worked for hospitals and private practices, though outpatient clinic, ambulatory care and sub- or post-acute care facility employees were also represented. Most survey participants were department leaders, physicians, nurses or physician assistants in facilities ranging in size from very small to very large. The median facility had approximately 500 employees.
Ergotron, Inc., is a global leader in designing ergonomic solutions that connect people and technology to enhance human performance, health and happiness. Using the Technology of Movement™, Ergotron builds products and custom solutions that help people feel a new sense of energy in healthcare, industrial and office settings, both at home and on-site.
Throughout its 40-year history, Ergotron has led the industry with innovative, professional-grade products and customer-focused service. The company has earned more than 200 patents and established a growing portfolio of award-winning brands, including WorkFit® and CareFit™, and patented Constant Force™ and LiFeKinnex™ technologies. Ergotron has headquarters in St. Paul, Minnesota, with a presence in North America, EMEA and Asia Pacific.