Salus journal

Healthy Planet. Healthy People.

Healthcare / Sustainability

European Healthcare Design 2017

Healthcare evolves from sustainability to wellness

By Richard Rome 24 Aug 2017 0

How are healthcare systems embracing LEED and other tools for measuring sustainability? This paper hypothesises that around the world, users are moving beyond using measuring tools to determine if they’re achieving sustainability goals towards a more holistic definition of sustainability that incorporates the concept of wellness.

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Users are embracing sustainability in their everyday lives and operations as critical to quality improvement in service delivery and the patient experience, as well as creating financial efficiencies. This is now driving new ideas and process improvements to support ‘wellness’ in healthcare environments, which, in turn, creates higher productivity and improves the morale of staff, visitors, patients and the local community.

Outcomes: Sustainability has been classically interpreted as improving efficiencies, such as energy for lower carbon footprints, better material selection, and reduced water use.

However, sustainability concepts and design processes at hospitals such as Dell Children’s (LEED Platinum), Birmingham Children’s (LEED Gold) and THR Flower Mound (LEED Silver) have led to greater recognition among US healthcare systems of the economic and employee ‘payback’ of applying sustainability to other systems. These healthcare organisations understand that the tools that have been applied to other daily operational processes could dramatically improve: the efficiency of healthcare workers, thus lowering the overall cost of healthcare; and the application of the ‘well’ concept, not just for the hospital but also the community around the hospital, to develop civic pride and confidence in their built environment.

Implications: This paper will demonstrate how these healthcare systems are improving their operational models and reveal some preliminary results in areas of:

  • integration of building systems to improve staff efficiencies and the patient experience;
  • integration of medical support system platforms to help healthcare workers shave vital minutes off tasks to allow more time for one-on-one patient care;
  • revision of the entire patient experience model through use of smart technology to save the patient time, remove some of the anxiety from the healthcare experience, and improve outcomes; and
  • redefining community outreach programmes through technology to promote healthy lifestyles and a ‘well’ environment.

Organisations involved