Planning around the Patient Experience
How can Facility Managers in healthcare facilities better improve the patient experience? It’s an interesting thought since very rarely do Facility Managers have direct content with patients. Many, when reflecting on their visits to healthcare facilities, think only of the interactions they have with staff (physicians, nurses, technologists etc.), however, the physical environment can have a direct impact on the experience as a whole. Facility Managers of healthcare facilities not only have the challenge of balancing the needs of all stakeholders, but also have the challenge of maintaining the seemingly ever changing regulations for HVAC, electrical and plumbing systems.
We’ve listed 5 Direct and 5 Indirect ways you as a Facility Manager can impact the patient experience.
- Those who are unwell are more sensitive to temperature fluctuations especially if their movement is restricted in any way. How does temperature change throughout the facility? Are there areas with drafts? Could the layout of the space be changed to better regulate temperature?
- Is the facility easy to navigate? Can patients easily find their way?
- Have your staff members been provided with guidelines when working in patient areas?
- Be a patient! Visit different areas of the facility and go through a typical (mock) patient experience. What do you observe from the patients around you? How could the physical environment be changed to improve their experience?
- Maintenance signs can either be interpreted by the patient as “continuous improvement” or “what’s wrong”. Can something as simple as the terminology on signage be changed to reinforce the feeling of improvement versus problem?
- Staff in direct patient contact deal with complex and sensitive situations at various times throughout their shift. A facility that is built around their needs can improve their overall feelings as their shift progresses. Do staff members feel that there is an open line of communication to put forward suggestions? Were high traffic areas taken into consideration in the facility planning process? Can adjustments be made to improve work flow?
- Is lighting adequate depending on the use of the space?
- Are “staff only” areas maintained as adequately as patient areas?
- Schedule regular walk throughs in different areas at different times; especially during peak usage. And while you’re at it….
- The obvious to staff may not be as obvious to you. Try shadowing staff members during their day to see how they use their space.
Facility Managers face the regular challenge of working with various stakeholders to achieve a result that meets all objectives. Those working in the healthcare field have the added challenge of working with a facility that is in use 24/7. Maintaining strong relationships with all interest groups, (and thinking like a patient!) will help guide you towards a successful outcome.