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The Role of the Physical Environment in Crossing the Quality Chasm

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Background: Evidence-based design findings are available to help inform hospital decision makers of opportunities for ensuring that quality and safety are designed into new and refurbished facilities.

Framework for the Evidence: The Institute of Medicine's six quality aims of patient centeredness, safety, effectiveness, efficiency, timeliness, and equity provide an organizing framework for introducing a representative portion of the evidence. Design improvements include single-bed and variable-acuity rooms; electronic access to medical records; greater accommodation for families and visitors; handrails to prevent patient falls; standardization (room layout, equipment, and supplies for improved efficiencies); improved work process flow to reduce delays and wait times; and better assessment of changing demographics, disease conditions, and community needs for appropriately targeted health care services.

The Business Case: A recent analysis of the business case suggests that a slight, one-time incremental cost for ensuring safety and quality would be paid back in two to three years in the form of operational savings and increased revenues. Hospitals leaders anticipating new construction projects should take advantage of evidence-based design findings that have the potential of raising the quality of acute care for decades to come.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2007-11-01

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