Accommodating the ACA

A look at how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has the potential to influence the future of healthcare design.

reduction of re-admittance
In addition to patient satisfaction scores, hospital payments are also being tied to better quality outcomes. One of the prime aims of the ACA is to reduce re-admittance due to a hospital-acquired infection—something that affects an estimated 5 to 10 percent of all patients staying in an acute care hospital, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control. For this reason, fabric and finish choices have come under greater scrutiny.

“Furniture and finish choices have expanded in terms of options that are appropriate for healthcare settings,” Larsen says. “Fabrics that are manufactured with antimicrobial properties and furniture finishes that are cleanable and resistant to cracks where microbes can survive all provide additional ways to prevent the spread of infection.”

Thanks to the growing number of cases of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria and other incredibly nasty bugs, for a lack of a better term, fabrics and furnishings also must be able to experience an increasingly aggressive cleaning routine and escape unscathed.

“All of our furnishings and the fabrics and vinyls now have to take a 10 percent bleach solution,” Donner says. “It can’t be any old fabric—it has to be able to stand up to that bleach solution. It started as an infectious disease thing, but it’s now more of a standard practice.”

As the fabrics and surfaces that make up our healthcare spaces become increasingly sophisticated, it is essential to keep up to date on the various options on the market. Be ready to discuss how a proposed product can impact both quantifiable metrics, such as infection rates and durability, and more abstract goals like sustainability and aesthetics.

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