Published on : August 19, 2010

Can “Wellness Design” Improve Patient Experience Retaining Top Medical Staff?

Can “Wellness Design” Improve Patient Experience Retaining Top Medical Staff?

The nature of hospital design is one of constant change and many of these revolutionary modern hospitals in the Asia Pacific have been extensively altered or demolished to make way for new ideas and practices within hospitals.  The majority of changes are due to the advances of science, technology and patient care, but the greatest development has been in the direction of obtaining more light and air for patients. Hospitals are one of the largest public & private developments and are instrumental to local and regional communities.

Another great revolution is the advent of medical tourism within the Asia pacific. With private and public finances backing new hospital developments and refurbishments, again we are seeing a radical change in hospital design.

European Modernism did wonders for the archetypical hospital design, however now we are witnessing a shift towards new medicine and designing for the health and wellbeing for patients.  Hence the terminology has now been adopted to include ‘wellness design and planning ‘. Not only do architects interview the end users to fundamentally understand how one feels in a medical environment, the specialists within the institutions also require quality environments to practice.

These environments partially assist and encourage the best medical specialists to the organization. Consequently it has been proven that evidence based design in the long term reduces cost.

Bumrungrad Model

An example of the advent of new hospital design can be found in many cities; however an example that defines ‘wellness design ‘has been found Bangkok, Thailand. Bumrungrad International Hospital is one of the finest ‘hotel experience’ medical centre in Thailand, other than BMC.  Designing spaces for health and wellbeing is primarily focused on improving the patient healing experience. Bumrungrad hospital has set a new bench mark as the new Hospital as hotel concept. The refurbishment was designed for care excellence and to accommodate the needs and aspirations for patient health and wellbeing. Speaking about wellbeing it springs to mind sustainability.  This can be measured and calculated by international standards issued by the GBCA. LEED based calculations can regulate materials, water, energy consumption and all green house emissions – the question is how can environments measurably increase healing and take into account patients well being ? Evidence based design is shaping our hospitals. Research studies now factually demonstrate well considered architecture and interior design attracts patients and the top medical practitioners to an organization.

New developments in hospital design in the last ten years have incorporated campus style master planning, allowing world best practice facilities to shape the spaces we are reliant on for medical treatment. Innovative elements such as central court yards, internal and external gardens, and café and retail podiums distract patients with alternative environments to focus on. These spaces ultimately bring more variety, community, natural light and better circulation.

Ideally hospitals need to convey on arrival a message that creates the brand value. Bumrungrad International Hospital is committed to patient care, comfort, well-being and safety.  The design approach to wellness spaces is to relieve stress, provide refuge, symbolized competence, create strong way-finding and ensure patient families are accommodated. Good design objectives make all patients feel comfortable whilst offering the best medical facilities in the region, provided by the best medical teams.

The importance of the design of the facility also influences employee service attitudes and behaviors. Security and safety can also be balanced with some features apparent to patients/visitors, while conveying a message of safety. Technically and aesthetically health-care architecture creates safe and therapeutic environments for patient care and encourages family involvement. It promotes efficient staff performance and is restorative for workers under stress.

The design solutions have ultimately improved Bumrungrad’s clinical, economic, productivity, satisfaction, and cultural message. Notably all private patient suites were designed to accommodate an entire family, to assist patient support & fast recovery.

The approach taken whilst designing Bumrungrad International Hospital was to creatively integrate facilities between medical examination rooms and the public domain. The public domain was treated as a private and individual experience. The planning values were instrumental to creating acoustic zones and a scale that offered warmth and intimacy. How is this ever achieved in public spaces in Hospitals? The planning of all the facilities centred on the main central lobby.

Referred to as the ‘street’, custom way finding signage address high traffic areas and clearly direct patient traffic in meaningful and easy pathways. These pathways were defined by hedged foliage and reconstituted concrete walk ways reminiscent of an outdoor park. The definition of the way finding assists the patient /pedestrians to access specific medical zones and vehicle access with ease.

The planning of the central atrium, and break out spaces overlooked ‘Zen’ Japanese gardens and reflections pools. The use of soft indirect lighting from both the façade and the interior creates calmness. Combining the sensory elements with natural tones and neutral colors added to the overall experience. The sensorial reaction to the public spaces, including specialist clinics, sky lobby, VIP lounges, food court and the central atrium is linked both the acoustic value of the architectural balance of height, width and void spaces.

Whilst addressing the needs patients comfort, ease of access and well being, the planning addresses the clinical needs of the staff. The integration of technology, single and double loaded corridors affect the efficiency of Bumrungrad International Hospital operations. The advent of technology has also radically shaped the technical layout of hospital design, reducing the need for individual nurses stations for patient care. Bumrungrad proposed smaller technical examination rooms to improve spatial efficiency and streamline operations. Small efficient steps and planning logic, governed by world best practice design has made Bumrungrad International one of the first ‘hotel experience’ medical centre’s honored at the APIDA awards, Hong Kong in the healthcare sector.

About the Author

About dwp ~ design worldwide partnership (dwp) is an integrated design consultancy with over 2,000 completed projects and 400 professionals delivering services in Architecture, Interior Design, Graphic Design, Facility Planning, Project Management, Feasibility Studies and Turn Key Design and Construction.  dwp strives for design excellence through creativity and innovation.  This is reflected in our globally recognized and award winning projects.  Our core values inspire our designers to embrace design challenges and surpass client’s expectations.  http://www.dwp.com/.