by Krutikaa SharmaThe Centre for Health Design (CHD) defines Evidence Based Design (EBD) as “The deliberate attempt to base decisions on the best available research evidence, with the goal of improving outcomes & of continuing to monitor the success outcomes & of continuing to monitor the success or failure for subsequent decision making.”
While EBD methodologies can be used in construction of all kinds of buildings, it is used most often in healthcare buildings. This is because healthcare buildings are purpose-built for specific function usage i.e. healing and cure of patients.
The Challenge – In Design
As lead designers, our challenge is to create an organised, efficient, easy to maintain and easy to navigate, visitor-friendly hospital. It is always the aim of designers and planners to make hospitals easier and less stressful for patients and their families to navigate. To also design hospitals that help staff do their jobs seamlessly.
The implementation of EBD confronts a big challenge due to lack of the integrated evidence. Furthermore, the evidence fragmentation makes it difficult for putting it into practise because the value is unpredictable due to the different levels of credibility.
Having said that, architects and designers often have credible reports and material available as evidence. Hence, it is very critical for hospitals to on-board specialists who understand EBD.
EBD – In Design
As mentioned earlier, healthcare buildings are purpose-built for sensitive reasons. A critical point is to consider the needs of patients, thereby enhancing the value to them by adding product or service features and removing wasteful activities, i.e to maximise the value and optimize the healing environment.
EBD needs to endeavour to combine all individual design features that lead to positive impact to optimise the healing Environmentalists and designers could use these evidences to make decisions based on the best information available. Paralleled with customer-driven idea, user- centred design also emphasised that the integration of knowledge of practise, preferences, etc into the design process is crucial to a successful design outcome.
An EBD strategy for a healthcare building involves design features such as:
Daylight: There are a number of evidence-based design features like floor-to-ceiling windows & skylights that provide a great deal of natural light. In spaces without windows, one should include photographs of nature which bring a sense of the outdoors into the hospital.
EBD also improves staff experience, as their native can be high-stress, therefore a coffee break with a view can help staff clear their head and return to work more focussed on their patient’s wellbeing. These types of changes can produce very real and very positive effects.
Good Wayfinding : Good way finding is imperative in reducing stress and it should be considered in early design stages. Long accommodative porches for patients, visitors and most importantly ambulances should be included in the design process early on. Straight corridors help make the hospital layout less maze-like, also having views to the outside help orient better. Referencing internal landmarks such as nurse stations, reception desks and architectural features helps people remember their route.
Visibility: Clear large glazing at the main entrance, lobby areas and other public spaces provide good visibility for visitors as they approach the hospital.
These features offer patients a greater sense of calm and accelerate the healing process.
- Krutikaa Sharma, Architect, HOSMAC, design and management consultancy
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