Medical InnovationsNewsWellness

Person-Centered HealthCare: Patient Room of the Future

4 Mins read

person-centered healthcare

I sincerely believe that the way we live and what surrounds us contributes (or not) to our well-being. Environment, climate, family, food, housing all affect us and can help or harm our health.  So to me, it’s no secret that a patient room in a hospital can affect the rate and quality of healing.

person-centered healthcare

I sincerely believe that the way we live and what surrounds us contributes (or not) to our well-being. Environment, climate, family, food, housing all affect us and can help or harm our health.  So to me, it’s no secret that a patient room in a hospital can affect the rate and quality of healing.

In 2006, NXT Health, a non-profit healthcare design organization, signed a contract with the Department of Defense to design the Patient Room of the Future.  NXT Health is beyond a design company.  Yes, their projects are aesthetically pleasing, but they are more than that.  The Patient Room has been created with the patient in the forefront and has totally rethought the patient environment.  NXT has added technology that enhances patient/provider communications, introduced new workflow concepts and used design to improve the quality of healthcare with the focus on the patient.

The final product, Patient Room 2020, was unveiled recently at the DuPont Corian Design Studio in New York City. Corian was a key component of the patient room and was chosen for its ease of cleaning and the fact that it is thermoformable and leaving few seams or joints and therefore, little space for bacteria to grow.  Other technologies used in the Patient Room are:futuristic patient rooms

  • A patient ribbon wrapping around the bed contains equipment to monitor vital signs
  • Patient-controlled lighting
  • Bedside controlled tablet for video-consulting with doctors, searching hospital information or viewing entertainment.
  • Hand-washing station, built-in RFID tracking for instruments, simulated UV sanitation of workstations.
  • Customized antibacterial textiles for linens and scrubs.

Each element was chosen with the patient in mind and was placed in the correct location to enhance patient engagement and caregiver efficiency.

Patient Room 2020 is inspirational.  Of course, the room itself is beyond the budget of most hospitals, but it should not be considered as a practical model for hospitals to adopt immediately, but rather as a model from which to draw inspiration.  It shows what can be done with design and technology to enhance efficiency and quality of care.  Providers, patients and anyone involved in healthcare should be thinking about how to make our healthcare system more patient-centric and how to make our hospital environments more conducive to healing.  


I spoke with Salley Whitman, Executive Director of NXT Health, and asked her about the feedback received on Patient Room 2020 and about her ideas for the future of health design and patient centricity.

“We had to get out of the same old box and do something really different”, Salley explained.  “We had to push the idea a little to get people interested.”

“Almost everyone has been a patient at some point”, Salley said.  And you go into a hospital and you see fountains in the lobby and beautiful plants in the hall, and then you see the patient room, and you think, I see where they are spending their money, and it’s not on me!”

NXT is trying to change that.

So far, since the unveiling of Patient Room 2020 in July, 4 major hospital systems have requested to view the model.  “The hospital systems that have asked to view Patient Room 2020 want to come and see it and talk to the design team about how to make their own patient rooms more patient-centric”, Salley explained. 

Patient Room 2020 was not meant to be adopted as is by hospitals, but was meant to be used as a resource for hospitals that want to explore the idea of patient-centricity.  It is a showcase of how technology, equipment and materials can be used to benefit and empower patients, and thus lead to greater patient satisfaction and better care in general.

“We definitely have to do something about readmissions”, Salley told me.  “The care in the hospital has to follow the patient home and the patient has to become very engaged in his own care.  The technology and equipment in Patient Room 2020 is designed to help do that.”Image

The idea is that if patients are more empowered and more in control, they will be able to participate more in their health and their treatment.  They will be in a setting that puts them in focus and cares about their satisfaction. They will have lighting that can be adjusted to their liking, technology that will answer their questions, and equipment designed with their well-being in mind.

Patient Room 2020 is not an end in itself, but the beginning of a conversation.  It was developed to get people thinking and talking about how to design a room that will improve patient satisfaction and patient outcomes.  I asked Salley what the next year will bring and she said that they would be working on tweaking the model even further.  “We are working on some very cool lighting ideas and we have some infection control ideas as well.  We will be building on existing technologies and equipment.”  


Salley is optimistic, as am I.  There is a great deal of talk going on about patient satisfaction and patient centricity. With patient satisfaction being a key element in federal payments to hospitals, hospitals are doing more to focus on the patient.  And with readmissions being penalized, hospitals are really trying to extend good care into the home environment.  As time goes on, hospitals will want their patient rooms to reflect this trend.  And in 2020, who knows?  Perhaps Patient Room 2020 will be the standard hospital room.

If you like this post, please read other posts in the series on the Person-Centered HealthCare main page. And if you have a story to tell that may be a fit with our series, please comment below or email me at



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