At the Beryl Institute Patient Experience conference last week, plenty of speakers mentioned the physical environment’s impact on the patient experience. But it wasn’t their focus.
They were more concerned with process improvement, utilizing things like patient mapping, staff training, and focus groups to change how hospital staff members interact with patients. All important stuff to be sure. But the patient experience is not just about communication.
As many of us know, the physical environment can help or hinder effective communication. It also expresses the culture of the organization and contributes to the overall patient experience. The building design is often the first clue that patients have about what their hospital experience is going to be like — starting with the building exterior, then the parking garage, and their first point of entry — a lobby, reception area, or ER.
Only then are they greeted by a person.
Inherently, I think the expert speakers at the Beryl conference know how important the physical environment is to healthcare. Many showed images of poor environments to illustrate their points — dark corridors, cluttered patient rooms, and walls plastered with makeshift signs. One — Susan Mazer of Healing HealthCare Systems, spoke about bringing music and nature to the bedside and creating an intentional healing environment for patients.
Okay, so I didn’t go to the Beryl conference expecting people to be talking about the design of the physical environment. But it deserves more than a mention at a conference on the patient experience that’s attended by front-line managers — many of whom are likely to have input into the design of their physical spaces at some point in their careers.
What do you think?
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