Hospitals Borrow from Hospitality to Create Better Spaces

Hospitals are becoming much more hospitable. That’s because there is increasing evidence of the benefits to patients and staff of being in an environment that feels more like home or a hotel: patients feel better and may actually heal quicker, visitors stay longer, and staff morale rises.

For example, the Dyson Centre for Neonatal Care at the Royal United Hospital in Bath, England, sports high ceilings and skylights. It is eight decibels quieter than the former building. Family and visitors can select from a variety of chairs and move them around. It’s all very peaceful, restorative and accommodating — just as you would expect from a stay in a hotel. Research shows that babies in the new center slept for 20-percent longer than those in the old facility and parents visited an average of 30 minutes longer a day.

Healthcare facilities designed to be welcoming position themselves to score higher on patient satisfaction surveys. And a higher patient satisfaction score can improve the bottom line. In the United States, a hospital’s Medicare reimbursement from the government is based on quality performance; 30 percent of that reimbursement decision is based on the hospital’s score on a customer satisfaction survey known as the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey. Most U.S. hospitals count on Medicare revenue for a large percentage of their revenue. So, facilities that score well in the survey stand to receive greater rates of reimbursement.

And since hospitals compete for business, a warmer, more accommodating environment can be a big advantage. From quieter patient rooms to enhanced safety and security to greater staff efficiency, door openings help hospitals meet the expectations of today’s healthcare facility design standards. Here are some ideas that healthcare is borrowing from hospitality design:

  • Controlling sound transmission to create a greater sense of privacy
  • Creative use of doorways, such as installing barn door sliders, to maximum use of available space
  • Finishes that are less institutional in appearance while remaining durable and easy to clean
  • Widespread use of glazing to let in more natural light in gathering areas and patient rooms
  • Different lighting configurations and levels that accommodate different activities in the patient’s room, such as examinations, sleep and family visits
  • Doors with locksets that have a crisper look because the reader and lock are integrated

There are many ways to improve the aesthetic without sacrificing functionality, security or durability. ASSA ABLOY’s Sargent, Yale, and Corbin Russwin brands offer integrated decorative hardware collections that can be used across locking devices, including mortise locksets, tubular locks, exit devices and electronic-access control locks. This makes it possible to keep the design look consistent throughout the facility. If an executive office or pharmacy suite needs electronic access control, but the patient rooms need mortise locks, the hardware has a consistent look.

For example, the University Medical Center (UMC) in New Orleans, designed as a high-tech, modern center offering the best in training and patient care, chose ASSA ABLOY Harmony Integrated Wiegand Locksets because the reader and lock are integrated, they are highly secure, and have the clean look the center wanted. UMC also selected more than 6,000 door openings from ASSA ABLOY.

Generally, doorways need special consideration to meet challenges found only in healthcare settings. Wide doors hung on swing-clear hinges create room for gurneys, beds, and equipment carts to be easily wheeled through corridors and patient room doors. Push/pull latches allow healthcare personnel to access the patient room with a simple nudge or a gentle pull. Wireless electronic cabinet locks enable tight inventory control of pharmaceutical deliveries to patients.

Healthcare facilities have come a long way in functionality and appearance. So too have commercial-grade doors and hardware. Technological advances give door openings the capability to meet the most diverse security and life-safety needs of a facility, while greater attention to aesthetics provides more design options. All of this makes it possible to design a healthcare facility that is safe, secure and aesthetically pleasing.

Check out for a glimpse at door-opening solutions designed with the healthcare market in mind.