Healthcare Technology Featured Article

August 01, 2013

Patient Room 2020 Shows Off Innovative Hospital Room of the Future

What will an innovative hospital room look like in the next decade?

An idea has been generated using smart design under the Patient Room 2020 project. The project from NXT Health, a non-profit healthcare design organization, allows for architecture, products, technology and medical processes to work together.

Funding came from the U.S. Department of Defense. Clemson University’s Healthcare and Architecture Graduate Program also took part.

It allows for streamlined healthcare and improved patient outcomes. However, the room is just a model, and it is unclear how many hospitals will embrace the vision and technology.

But it has gotten acclaim. In 2010, Patient Room 2020 won a national design award from the Center for Health Design.

There are many challenges found in hospitals. Current buildings are old, and new construction is often delayed because of the recession and post-recession years.

Yet the demand for healthcare services will likely jump 25 percent over the next 10 years, and electronic medical records need to be adopted by 2015. Another challenge is that medical errors, which could have been prevented, lead to the deaths of 98,000 patients a year. There is more than $2 billion in waste a year.

“These challenges demanded innovative solutions and platforms to re-think how inpatient care is delivered,” NXT said in a statement. “Patient Room 2020 is the unifying element that brings together architecture, technology, care processes, and human factors into a holistic, systematic solution for the inpatient care experience. The project conceptualizes what could be possible in the next ten years by harnessing developing technologies that are on the horizon and integrating them with the surrounding architectural environment.”

Under the project, there will be more customization of service for patients, relatives and hospital employees. The project helps to prevent patient falls, infections that patients get in the hospital, and medication errors. It also improves efficiency, lessens mistakes, and provides more time for patient care. Patients and relatives get more access to information and resources via technology.

Patient Room 2020 was recently shown at the DuPont Corian Design Studio in New York City.

“The NXT Health team and its collaborators -- more than 30 industry partners kicked in technology, materials and know-how to produce the prototype -- insist that Patient Room 2020 not be taken at, well, face value,” said a report from “The streamlining and packaging of disparate technologies for patient and caregiver use might seem like obvious solutions, the redesign of the bathroom a nice aesthetic touch. But what this really represents, the team says, is a wholesale rethinking of the patient environment, which has remained largely unchanged for decades.”

Andrew Quirk, senior vice president for the Health Care Center of Excellence at the U.S. construction firm Skanska (SKBSY), told Fortune, “You can't expect to deliver healthcare in the future the same way -- and in the same space -- as you did in the last few decades."

"Every other time I've heard, 'This is the patient room of the future, there's nothing new about it," Quirk said. "This project really took a leap of faith in integrating technology and architecture and really incorporating all of the activities that will typically go on in a patient room into the design."

Under the project, the patient ribbon extends from the bed, headwall, ceiling and footwall.

“The headwall contains the necessary machinery for capturing vital signs as well as any oxygen tanks or other hardware that might be necessary. The overhead panel contains patient-controlled lighting, while the footwall contains a display that can be used for everything from video-consulting with doctors to pulling up hospital information to viewing entertainment (all controlled from the bed via tablet computer). Caregiver tech in the room includes a hand-washing station, built-in RFID tech for tracking instruments, and simulated UV sanitation of workstations to cut down on the risk of hospital-acquired infection,” Fortune reports.

Under the project, caregivers will work in an area near the patient bed. The work area has embedded technology, simulated UV light sanitization and wireless device charging stations, according to the design studio.

Another feature of the room is the patient companion made up of an overbed table and a touchscreen tablet. There is also an adaptable bathroom with a sliding door. Caregivers have a station with indicator lights for hand washing, accessories and an RFID enclosure.

In addition, to reduce falls, DuPont said there is a travel path between the patient’s bed and the bathroom. Grab bars extend from the bedside to the toilet/shower. Possible obstructions are embedded into wall surfaces. An Intense Lighting illuminated grab bar provides ambient light along the floor at night.

Dalsouple rubber floors cushion a patient if he or she falls and a Handicare patient lift system helps to mitigate injuries.

"I do not believe that building things the same way but at lower cost is going to help with things like readmission, with hospital-acquired infections," Salley Whitman, executive director of NXT Health, was quoted by Fortune. "These are some of the big issues we're dealing with payment reform, because you're paying for performance. Hospitals are going to get paid because their patients don't fall, because they don't get sicker while they're there, because they understand their care so when they leave they don't come back -- these are all performance metrics the federal government is tracking. So this is not just about putting in technology so we can have fancier electronic medical records."

"In the future there are going to be fewer hospitals, so when we build those hospitals we better build them right," Whitman added. "We need to build them in a highly engineered, highly technological way so that they are actually part of the care process, not just an appendage.”

Edited by Alisen Downey
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