5 Guiding Principles for Healthcare Architecture : Creating a Better Patient Experience


(1) Do Not Let Complexities of the Building Become Complexities of the Patient.

Healthcare Architecture can be considered one of the most complex, as it must accommodate the most advanced medical systems and equipment, while it must also accommodate some of the most complex organizational and operational functions and cross- functions, all while meeting the most rigorous regulatory requirements known to be in place. Despite all of that, a better Patient Experience would be one that is simpler and cleaner, nearly completely independent from building, operational or regulatory complexities. 


(2) Do Keep in Mind the Whole is Greater than the Sum of Its Parts.

When considering the Patient Experience, consider that all Patients -at a given point in time in the Facility- are a larger Energy that can and should be harnessed for healing. Each Patient, as well as many times that Patient’s Circle of Support (family and friends), can and will contribute to the Healing of another Patient if given the opportunity; these opportunities for contribution to Healing must be created deliberately through the Architecture, in common as well as in incidental spaces. 


(3) Do Create Peace for the Patient by Use of Natural Elements.

For a Patient, even in what may be the best of care events -as is the birth of a child- stress levels are as high as they will ever be simply by entering the Facility. Natural Elements contribute to the Healing of each Patient as they create a certain ease and comfort; water, stone, natural sounds, -such as rain, wind, the ocean, a forest of pines- all can positively contribute to each Patient’s Healing if made available for their experience throughout the Architecture. 


(4) Create Visual Control Both Of and For the Patient. 

Decentralized Nurse Stations are proven very effective, largely because they allow for Visual Control of fewer Rooms per Staff Member, improving care response times. A better Patient Experience however will be one that, in addition to improved response times, gives the Patient that same level of Visual Control of their assigned Medical Staff Members; simply enabling the Patient with an Emergency Call Button is insufficient when it comes to easing Stresses and Anxieties while in care. Visual Control tends to be created in Architecture through openness or in separations made, whole or in part, of Transparencies. 


(5) Finding a Way to Better Wayfinding. 

Wayfinding is an everyday challenge in Healthcare Architecture. It is probably one of the most important problems to be solved, yet seems to become largely secondary when prioritizing during the Design Phase of the Facility. Wayfinding will directly impact, positively or negatively, the Patient’s Experience as well as the experience of the Patient’s Circle of Support. Anxieties and Stresses will certainly be exacerbated by any additional feelings of being lost within the whole or even within a portion of the Facility. Return to the First Guiding Principle, of not letting building complexities become Patient complexities, and work on a better way to Creating Direction.