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HOK Designers Outline Four Ways Healthcare Facilities Can Improve Patient Well-Being

Mara Baum and Adeleh Nejati have authored an article on integrating health and wellness design strategies to help hospitals improve patient care.

The four research-backed design strategies include biophilic design, daylight exposure, acoustical and thermal comfort, and indoor air quality and material toxicity.

Excerpted from Building Operating Management:

In the late 1800s, Florence Nightingale wrote her thoughts on the design of hospitals, citing the importance of access to daylight, windows with views, and natural ventilation. Over a century later, the principles she laid out are backed by recent research that measures improved health outcomes when the outdoors are welcomed in. These old roots are springing forth in modern versions of healing architecture and interior environments, reinvigorated by evidence-based practices and building science that demonstrate the importance of a connection to nature in healing.

Evidence-based design loosely addresses broader issues that impact staff health and well-being, including daylight, contact with nature, and acoustics. In addition, newer health-focused green building rating systems such as LEED, WELL, Fitwel, and the Living Building Challenge help to translate the wellness goals pioneered by Nightingale into focused design strategies.

Fundamentally, the research and concepts that went into the creation of these tools, along with other healthcare-focused evidence-based design research, can help design teams create environments that better promote health and healing as well as staff well-being.

In particular, four specific areas of design (biophilic design, daylight exposure, acoustical and thermal comfort, and indoor air quality and material toxicity) backed by research, have been shown to have an impact on well-being and health and should be considered for all new healthcare projects and renovations.

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