Building Healthcare Facilities for Quality

Cheryl Clark, October 9, 2014

Leaders at three healthcare systems describe how innovative building design ideas can improve quality outcomes and how, sometimes, the good ideas don't work out so well.

This article first appeared in the September 2014 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

During planning, many features seemed inspired by genius, including this one: Situated at the entrance to each of its 288 patient rooms is a sink with a faucet that automatically trickles water when it detects human motion. The tinkling stream was supposed to compel providers and visitors alike to wash their hands when entering and exiting.

This design, combined with other innovations in the new building, would result in plummeting infection rates because, as so-called secret shoppers documented, hand-washing compliance improved 25% compared with what was observed in the old building without this automation, he says.

But as with a lot of great ideas, the faucets had an unintended consequence. They worked too well.

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