April 16, 2015
By Upali Nanda, Sipra Pati and Adeleh Nejati, HKS, Inc. and Center for Advanced Design Research and Evaluation (CADRE)

Literature emphasizes the importance of the healthcare workplace and the effect on patient outcomes. What is lacking are studies conducted on-site and used for immediate application in design to assess and improve workplace conditions.

Objective: To study the workplace in a medical–surgical (med-surg) unit and to identify suboptimal environmental conditions that can be improved in the current unit and avoided in future design, through rapidly deployed field research and timely simulation

Methods: A rapidly deployed field research and simulation study was conducted in a 40-bed med-surg unit of a large healthcare system as part of the process of designing a new medical tower. Online surveys, systematic behavioral observations, semi-structured interviews, sound studies, and advanced spatial analysis through parametric modeling were conducted.

Results: The following created challenges for patient monitoring, care coordination, and management: (1) waste and variability in walking, (2) limited point-of-use access to supplies, (3) large distances traveled for minor tasks, and (4) low visibility and connectivity. The corridor is used as a workspace/communication hub. There is a distinct difference in beginning of day and night shift patterns and between walking “distance” and walking “sequence.” There is a tendency for nurses to multitask, but a simulation exercise shows that for key tasks like medication delivery, multitasking may not always reduce walking distances.

Conclusion: Co-location of medications, supplies, and nourishment; accommodation for work on wheels; and spatial and technological connectivity between care team and patients should be considered while designing a med-surg unit. Understanding the key activity sequences helps determine the proximity of spaces in relationship to patient rooms and each other.

To read the full paper posted in HERD Journal, click here: Field Research and Parametric Analysis in a Medical-Surgical Unit

Acknowledgments:  Ryan Gathmann, Steve Jacobsen, Camilla Moretti, Heath May, Tyler Schwede, Alison Avendt, Deana Sievert 

Posted in Health, Research, Research for Research Page
Tagged Adeleh Nejati, HERD Journal, HKS CADRE, Parametric Analysis in Med-Surg Unit, Sipra Pati, Upali Nanda