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In recent years, it has become popular opinion that the hospital room may be due for a checkup. Doctors, nurses, architects and designers all say the setting of a hospital room has an important function, but it is fundamentally neglected when it comes to delivering quality patient care and effectively reducing the occurrence of infection.
According to the CDC, 1 out of every 20 patients admitted to a hospital contracts some sort of infection while they are there. Some of these infections can be pretty serious - even deadly - and cost the US $10 billion a year in healthcare costs. Recent studies show that a minimum of half of that number can be avoided and the design of patient care rooms is one of the best places to start.
The basic design of today’s hospital room has changed very little since World War II - a time when it became more commonplace to have separate patient rooms instead of wards. Currently, the patient room of the future is being designed by NXT Health in New York for hospitals to provide a safer, private, comfortable place that is more conducive to healing, resistant to bacteria and more comfortable for the patient.
Hospital room of the future features:
Patient Ribbon: The patient ribbon will extend as a canopy above the bed extending from the headwall to the footwall. It is specially manufactured to contain the components normally found in any hospital infrastructure, with the addition of creating a cocoon above the patient’s head to block unwanted noise and help minimize the transmission of noise to other areas of the room.
Halo Lightbox: This lightbox in the patient ribbon above the bed can be programmed for mood or light therapy, and can simulate cloud movements, blue skies and other lighting conditions to help soothe patients.
Headwall: The headwall contains the equipment needed to check vital signs as well as oxygen and other supplies (all stowed neatly out of sight, yet easily accessible through pull-downs panels in the wall).
Footwall: The footwall contains a large screen that can be used for entertainment, video consultations with doctors and access to hospital information, educational content and social medical sites. The screen can easily be controlled by a tablet on the patient’s bed that also allows the user to adjust lighting, sound and even temperature.
Rubber Floors: The floors will be made of low-porosity rubber which does not contain or need chemical sealers or waxes that often tend to trap bacteria and other substances that can cause infections and allergic reactions.
Room Surfaces: All surfaces in the room other than the floor will be made of Corian, or similar solid, seamless material that is commonly found in homes as kitchen countertops. This is designed to minimize the occurrence of bacteria, mold and mildew build up and make clean up easier and more effective.
Entry Workstation: The workstation will be located at the entrance of the patient room. As staff and other people enter, the sink will light up red to indicate that hands should be washed. There will also be a dashboard in the wall where information on the patient can be both found and entered.
Bedside Caregiver Hub: There will be a panel that holds another computer, as well as other technology that will be embedded into the wall for safekeeping. When the panel is closed, ultraviolet light kills bacteria that might have formed on the surfaces of these units.
The future of hospital rooms gleams bright! Hopefully making infection control measures easier for caregivers and facilities more conducive to patient comfort will positively impact healing and help reduce overall healthcare costs in the future.