Data from 2010 indicated that around 6,100 intensive care units (ICUs) spread across 3,100 acute-cate hospitals across the entire United States. These hospitals all in all have a total number of 104,000 beds for their would-be patients. In addition, some of these ICUs and patient rooms are already in dire need of renovations to make them at par with most hospitals’ most updated features and equipment.
If you’re planning to renovate your hospital, you might want to check Inpatient Care and Intensive Care Unit and other similar sites. Here are a few suggested powerful innovations in ICU design that you might even find helpful for use in your own ICU design.
Layout Of ICU
The most important part of design innovations is the ICU layout. It will affect all the aspects of the ICU. Some of the essential elements of ICU layout are patients’ privacy, use of modern healthcare technology, comfort and safety, working conditions of healthcare staff, ventilation and air circulation, throughput, logistics support, and space for family on watch. Architects and designers come up with different types of layouts and combinations of design. They’ve often been limited only by the space allotted for the ICU.
There are various ways to layout the ICU. For instance, some have a square with beds around the perimeter. Others have a rectangle with patient beds against the walls and a desk at the entrance. Also, there’s the triangle layout with the staff desk in the middle. But the most dominant design among hospitals is the racetrack with patient beds around the perimeter and the central desk in the middle.
ICU Patient Room
The patient’s experience in the ICU is generally centered in the patient room. Hospital standards and guidelines in many states advise hospitals to provide single-person patient rooms rather than rooms or wards with numerous patients and beds. This is meant to ensure the privacy and safety of patients and prevent the spread of any infectious diseases.
1. Design Patient Room To Be Stand-Alone
A powerful innovation here would be to design each patient room so that it could be a stand-alone or autonomous health services unit. It should be fully equipped to function on its own even if all the other sections of the ICU become overwhelmed with other patients. Moreover, it should have space for nurses, medical assistants, and caregivers. There should also be enough room to do the procedures in the patient room itself if needed. Lastly, it should also have enough space where visitors can stay and watch over the patient and move around as needed.
To achieve this, the ICU design should integrate the structure, space, and functionalities of the patient room into the overall design of the ICU. The patient room should also factor in the workflow and hospital staff from one section to another. It should also allow the patient rooms to have outdoor views such as windows. Moreover, the ideal setup is that all patient rooms should have a standard size, structure, setup, and layout. They can be designed to mirror the rooms opposite them or those on the other end of the hall. Otherwise, they can be identical to each other.
2. Design All Support Features To Be Seamlessly Accessible
The optimal setup of a patient room is divided into four sections for the patient, the caregiver, family members watching over the patient or visitors, and then the entryway to the patient room. All features and functionalities in the patient room should be focused on providing care, attention, and service to the patient bed area.
There should be a distribution system within the patient room that would manage and allocate support features. The design factor in how medical devices, oxygen tanks, electrical sockets, data outlets, communications facilities, and other infrastructure services would have to be accessed and used within the patient room. The distribution wires or conduits shouldn’t be scattered on the floor as it would impede movement within the room by the patient, hospital staff, or the family watching over.
The designers can choose to have fixed columns or headwalls that are mounted to the walls or standing from the floors. The other option would be to go for mobile columns or booms, which can be brought near to or away from the patient bed as may be needed. The advantage of stationary structures is that they cost less than mobile support features. On the other hand, the advantage of mobile booms is that there would be greater room to access the patient and move the patient bed.
3. Caregiver Section
The patient room should also have a caregiver section. This should be a dedicated area within the patient room where the hospital workers and medical staff can do the medical preparations and procedures if necessary. The caregiver section or zone should have enough room and functionality for computers, medical equipment displays and monitors, and storage areas for some of their medical equipment and supplies for the patient.
The caregiver section should be designed so that it won’t hinder or obstruct the interaction between the patient and their families. The caregivers should be able to access everything they need to prepare the medical treatment for the patient. They should have enough space to prepare formulations for the patient’s medicines. Likewise, this is where they can put down other medical paraphernalia that they usually bring to the room, such as test tubes containing blood samples, IV fluids, and other injectables.
4. Family Zone
The zone within the patient room for family members should be designed so that they would also have a comfortable stay at the hospital while they’re watching over the patient. The hospital should provide basic amenities such as comfortable chairs, access to electrical outlets, jacks for data access, or provisions for wireless internet access. They should also be given a small desk, if possible, where they can list down the things they need to buy or to do for the patient.
For patients who may have to stay for a considerably long period of time, the patient room should also have a sofa or long bench where the family watching over the patient could get some rest, especially if they’re going to stay overnight. They should also be given access to dimmed lighting or lampshades to go on with what they need to do, even if the main lighting in the patient room has to be switched off for the benefit and well-being of the patient.
Additionally, the family zone should also have enough space to eat their meals if some of the patient’s children and other family members want to spend some time with the patient. Maybe they could also have a small table where kids can set their laptops or tablets or their books to enjoy their stay with the patient. Lastly, they should consider adding a nook or small shelf to deposit their stuff while they’re in the patient room.
5. The Entryway
The entryway could be designed in a way that it opens directly to the hallway. It could also be set back a bit. The advantage of developing it this way is to give the maximum amount of space for the patient room. But setting it back a bit also has its benefits. The setback area can be designed as a sanitizing or handwashing area. This is where visitors can sanitize themselves, wash their hands, store some of the stuff they brought, or hang their clothes.
If the designer goes for the setback option, the entryway could also be set up to function as a decentralized workstation or information and display nook. They should include a shelf where the patient’s family can store some sanitizing stuff such as alcohol, handwash liquid, foot bath carpets, and storage space for surgical masks.
A powerful innovation here could be to use a hybrid design that should be a fusion of the best features and advantages of an entryway that opens directly to the hallway and an entryway with a setback feature. This hybrid design would enable the designer to get the best advantages from both types of design for ICU patient rooms.
6. Core Medical Equipment and Devices
The ICU room itself should contain all the core medical equipment and devices. The ICU should have its own physiologic monitor. Aside from that, there should be feeding pumps and infusion equipment if needed. There should also be patient lift equipment to move the patients from one bed to another or their wheelchair. Every ICU room should have a mechanical ventilator and fully functional heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system.
It would also be best to consider having its own pneumatic compression equipment, bedside tables, tables over the bed, and booms for IV fluids in the room. The central workstation should have computers, label printers for laboratory specimens and other information markers and labels, an intercom station for nurse calls over the hallway and corridors, and inside the patient rooms. Lastly, there should be storage areas for linen, medication, and other supplies like different labeled disposal bins for various kinds of waste.
A powerful innovation here would be to design the ICU room itself so that the amenities for point-of-care testing (POCT) and ultrasonography are fully integrated into the structure, space, and functionalities of the ICU. The design team may be given the option to choose whether these devices and amenities would be set inside each patient room or placed in a central location where they can be easily accessed or retrieved by the caregiving staff.
7. Environmental Design and Sound Management
One of the most important innovations that can be done in an ICU design is to ensure that the ICU would be set amid a healing environment. The ICU needs to have a healing environment for the patients. This would significantly impact the physiological health, psychological outlook, and social wellness of everyone in the ICU within such surroundings.
While there are multiple ways to create a healing environment in the patients’ rooms, some of the design factors contributing to this are the lighting, visual design, sound, entertainment, and temperature.
Moreover, some powerful innovations here would be to install sound management and acoustic control systems. Being able to control sound within the ICU and the patient room would create a more positive experience. This will result in lower physical and physiological stress. There would also be fewer cases of patients and their families being awakened from their sleep because of too much noise in the corridors and central workstations.
8. Infection Control and Prevention
With the ongoing global pandemic, another vital aspect of ICU innovation would be improving and enhancing the infection control and prevention system and measures of the ICU and the hospital in general. The ICU should integrate an effective infection control system into its renovation and innovation that will bring down the potential of infection to its barest minimum.
Among the core elements of an effective infrastructure for infection control would be measures and systems for clean air and water, filtering, removal, and disposal of waste. The patient rooms should have non-porous walls and surfaces. These should provide a sealed air containment in the rooms, but the surfaces should be easy to wipe and clean. There should be visible and easy-to-access hand sanitizers and fluid dispensers inside the room.
A possible innovation here would be to set an automated and electronic temperature at the entrance to the ICU. There should be similar electronic gun temperature checks in each patient room. Moreover, they could add electronic handwashing surveillance systems, QR code scanners for vaccination certifications, or other proof-verification systems.
There are several ways to introduce powerful innovations in ICU design. But all innovations should be centered on the patient room. This is where the infrastructure support services and features of the ICU should be focused on. They should make changes to the patient room to improve further and enhance the healing environment for the patient and the experience of their family who watches over them.