Healing Environment: thoughtful design improves patient care
Healing Environment: thoughtful design improves patient care
Interview with Werner Frenz, Chief Marketing Officer Hospital Segment, Dräger Medical Deutschland GmbH
Most people would not immediately consider hospitals places that create a "feel-good atmosphere". And yet, the environment plays a key role in a patient’s healing process and recovery. As a leading medical and safety technology product manufacturer, Dräger Medical Deutschland GmbH knows how to create a design that blends function with comfort.
In this MEDICA-tradefair.com interview, Werner Frenz talks about the impact thoughtful design can have and explains why hospital staff should be included in hospital planning and design.
Mr. Frenz, how does thoughtful design help optimize hospital workflows?
Werner Frenz: Healing environment concepts play a key role in design. Equipment technology should not only be in harmony with the space but must also integrate practical aspects. One example of this is medical ceiling supply units (CSU). These ceiling mounted modules should have no sharp edges or corners that clinical staff could accidentally bump into. Organization is another critical aspect as it pertains to CSUs. Devices with their own power supply are attached to the units and must provide flexibility when it comes to docking and undocking. A well-thought-out cable management solution is practical and simple from a design perspective. One example is a cable that is integrated discreetly in the CSU column and tucked away by closing a cover. This is a more hygienic and safer setup since cables are not spread across the floor and present a hazard.
A lot of modern hospital room infrastructure can also be stowed away behind flexible wall supply units. Thanks to wooden finishes and indirect lighting modules, the sleek units create a patient-friendly atmosphere in the space. This mitigates the typical "hypertechnical" setup where patients seem to get lost behind a myriad of equipment, cables, and outlets. Another benefit is that these wall supply units allow flexibility when it comes to room concepts. In times of pandemic, smart solutions give you the flexibility to increase intensive care unit capacities as needed.
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What is important when it comes to healing supportive design?
Frenz: It involves surfaces and LED lighting options whose design promotes a comfortable, homelike environment - not just as it pertains to the wall supply units, but also as it relates to the drawer fronts of intensive care workstations. Or take a look at neonatal intensive care units, where incubators feature indirect lighting modules and light-shielding covers to provide an environment that supports the circadian rhythm. The SoundEar module is a device that monitors and displays noise levels using a series of colored lights. This can help reduce noise levels and stress among the tiny patients and staff. These factors play a key role in the healthy development of premature babies and subsequently improve clinical outcomes.
We must also ensure that medical staff can create an environment where patients feel more comfortable in their surroundings. To do this, the former must be able to self-manage and reduce their own job-related stress and physical strain. We offer solutions such as modern alarm management systems to reduce the number of unnecessary acoustic signals or ergonomic workplace design that supports and simplifies equipment operation or fosters early mobilization.
Imagining what is not yet - What architects are capable of usually does not necessarily apply to hospital staff. But that's exactly what they have to be able to do later. Visualizations such as 3D animations help to find the right solution for everyone involved.
What are the critical aspects to consider in a hospital design project?
Frenz: Hospital design and planning must consider both spatial and security requirements and strive for optimization of workflows and processes in current and future settings. For example, neonatal intensive care technology should include the parents and family members besides medical experts and caregivers. Families should stay close to the baby, while staff must still be able to deliver care to the newborn and operate equipment as calmly and quietly as possible. Hospital design and planning must also ensure the technical support team has unhindered access to patients and equipment to support efficient workflow. As you can see, hospital design and construction projects are multifaceted processes that ideally incorporate different specialists: architects, healthcare planners, clinical users, medical staff, and caregivers in the various medical disciplines.
Hospital rooms have a bad reputation. However, less "clinical" surfaces and LED lighting options can create a more comfortable atmosphere for patients.
What does modern design and planning entail?
Frenz: It takes mutual understanding because structural changes involve planners and architects plus the hospital employees. Only then can design and planning result in optimal solutions that ultimately benefit everyone. Visualization is very advantageous in this setting. We use modern technologies, such as 3D planning software and VR tools, to visualize design in complex projects. Hospitals need solutions that create real added value. That is why the design and planning process should intentionally include the concerns of those who work in complex, difficult environments: namely the hospital care team. It requires continuous dialog to build the hospital of the future. In hospital planning committees, we see ourselves not only as a technology provider but also as an enabler.
How important is sustainability in this setting?
Frenz: Needless to say, our solutions must comply with all legal and regulatory requirements. Our clients also expect long service lives and low life cycle costs from our products, which is why we design solutions and products that are long-lasting and save energy and resources. And taking the environmental protection commitment one step further, we also aim to support our clients with reliable and accurate information, smart products, and digital solutions in their effort to continuously reduce their own carbon footprint. We currently focus on an eco-conscious approach to anesthesia. This includes the efficient use of anesthetic gases, the choice of eco-friendly medical consumables, the recycling of equipment and reuse of soda lime, and the efficient design of medical gas management systems.
Added to this are several social and economic dimensions: patients with increasing rates of multimorbidity add more complexity to medical care, while there is an ongoing shortage of healthcare staff and qualified specialists. We want to reduce the physical and psychological impact on medical staff in critical care settings by automating routine work and therapy processes, and by providing support in clinical decisions. A thoughtful design can promote occupational safety and provide health protection.
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