All healthcare architects, healthcare engineers, patients, nurses, and physicians know what it is like to be in a hospital. However, all of these people have different perceptions of their hospital and their time while there. An architect has designed the hospital but has possibly never stayed in any of the hospitals they have designed. The engineers know the ins-and-outs of the design. The physicians and nurses are the ones who work long shifts each day in the hospital. And finally, the patients are the ones who stay in the hospital during their sickness with their families alongside them. Each and every one of these different experiences should be taken into consideration.

All of these different perspectives need to be taken into consideration when building a medical facility. This facility can be a specialized care facility or a general hospital. Overall, each person's needs are what will make this place the best for everyone. This is why human-centered design is a necessity in healthcare.

What Is Human-Centered Design?

Human-centered design is a creative approach to problem-solving. This is because it takes into account who will be using these products, or in this case, who will be using these facilities the most. Human- centered design is a process that starts with people first. Whether it be about technology, design, or the healthcare field overall, humans are the number one concern. It is about building something centered around the people you’re designing this facility or product for. It starts with a simple idea and expands from there.

Design Kit states that there are three phases to getting started with a human-centered design approach; these three phases are: inspiration, ideation, and implementation. These phases work through the motions of having an idea and bringing this idea to life.

Why Aren’t Current Systems Human-Centered?

Currently, our healthcare system is not designed for the best human use! The evidence is clear from the amount of errors that occur daily in our hospitals and clinics. This includes Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs), medication mishaps, healthcare staff burnouts, and more. The United States spends more money on healthcare than other countries, yet it still has the least effective system.

The first hospital was built in Iran in the AD time period. Before this, healthcare professionals would go to people’s homes and take care of sick patients there. It was common for patients to want to die in their home with their loved ones. However, as time went on and wars continued, the need for hospitals grew. When hospitals first started they were clean and prestige and as they became more in demand, the challenge was adding more beds in smaller spaces which created more diseases. Hospitals in the United States were often dirty and lacking in architecture and design. As time went on, there was a  decrease of four to five beds in one room. This has lead to the hospital designs we now know with one to two beds per room. The advantages were that there were less infections, more privacy, more social interaction and easier to get nurses attention.

The first major building design industry was born in 1988 in California. There were other small companies that were started to work with design and building before but never made a breakthrough.  In the 80s and before renovations and design methods were not being implemented into hospitals and wards and less than $10 billion a year was spent on new construction or renovating facilities in the United States. Healthcare was not a desirable place for engineering and interior designing.

The healthcare field has been enjoying a building boom for the past five - 10 years. This is due to the need to replace current buildings because of older methods of design and a lack of understanding about hospitals and their design needs. Hospitals have been moving in the right direction with LEAN process and going more green. The process of constantly adding new design and facilities ultimately lands upon healthcare reforms and regulations.

Human- centered design is so important we will be covering two more important aspects during the next two weeks!

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Moduflex, LLC, was designed with human-centered design and healthcare professionals in mind! We want the nurses, doctors, and patients who use the hospital the most to have the best experience during their stay and work day. For more information on what FlowCARE is, contact us today!

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Regardless of their location, size or budget, hospitals should strive to integrate these attributes. 

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