Similar to “the wave” at a ball game, the high energy level and excitement carried through the entire Design Connections Healthcare conference held in Ponte Vedra, Fla., in February. The gathering, sponsored by interiors+sources and nGage Events, included interdisciplinary attendees and education that focused on healthcare trends, care models, technology, product design, sustainability, adverse events and risk assessment, and research, in addition to interior design within acute, outpatient, and long-term care settings.
Value-Based Health and Wellness
Whitney Bowman Zatzkin started the conference talking about trust: how clinicians must embrace the need for patient acceptance, no judgement, and trust developed between the practitioner and the patient—all impacting health outcomes. A “Healthcare Trends” panel discussed creative outpatient care models and research being completed by Zatzkin’s Flip the Clinic, which is changing paradigms through evidence; community-based behavior health programs as presented by Dr. Andy Trentacoste from Creative Health Services; and my own information on multi-generational communities as the focus for younger and older generations alike being the future of multi-family development.
Designers are encouraged to keep an eye out for a new PBS Special, “Thriving in Place”—a replacement for the outdated terminology, “aging in place”—supporting growing and purposeful life opportunities at any age. Technology is clearly a part of supporting longevity, as discussed by Helen Lanes from Inova Health System and Michael Mann from Geriatrics Life Care; but empathy, human touch, and engagement have to be maintained for a total solution to be effective and meaningful for successful long-term living.
Informing Product Design
Donald Strum, principal of Product Design for Michael Graves Architecture & Design, provided inspirational examples of innovative, thoughtful, and functional products for the healthcare space that are being conceptualized and produced by the firm’s product design team.
Attending manufacturers provided educational sessions for the design community, providing case studies, receiving designer feedback, and reviewing research in healthcare design. One-on-one sessions were held between supplier reps and attendees to review specific needs and trends related to product applications.
In addition, the following four key areas were discussed in relation to healthcare settings:
Cleaning and maintenance. Historically there has been a disconnect between cleaning and disinfection protocols and manufacturer recommendations for cleaning. Healthcare providers follow different guidance, usually influenced by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) as part of quality assurance and infection control measures. Further, environmental services (ES) staff usually have a high turnover rate, reducing the effectiveness of training. (There is always need for continual in-service ES training, and often teams are understaffed.) These factors particularly impact vinyl products in healthcare settings. One specific issue raised at Design Connections is having consistent cleaning methods developed to clean and disinfect vinyl products that reinforce and support durability and ease of cleaning. For example, bleach- and hydrogen peroxide-based products are often utilized on vinyl upholstery, which is a perfect fit for durability, but the surfaces are not rinsed after application as part of the overall cleaning process. Because of the concentration of cleaning chemicals, that eventually impacts the integrity of the products. The goal is for an interdisciplinary group to be assembled to discuss these issues to make recommendations to organizations, such as the Association for the Healthcare Environment (AHE) of the American Hospital Association, to better protect vinyl products that have an important role in reducing the rate of infection within healthcare settings.