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Transforming the Physical Patient Space

Healthcare leaders discussed the necessary evolution of patient spaces during the 2024 HIMSS global conference and exhibition.

As healthcare organizations across the U.S. look to optimize their digital health offerings, they’re also exploring ways to transform their physical spaces to improve patient care.

During the 2024 HIMSS Global Health Conference & Exhibition, industry leaders shared their experiences modernizing their facilities to attract and delight patients and staff members.

These experiences align with Patient Room ‘Next’ goals that seek to upgrade physical spaces so that patients can receive more consumer-oriented comforts during their stay, and staff members can provide seamless, integrated care.

In Southern California, for instance, Loma Linda University Health shared successes from a newly unveiled interactive wall installation in the lobby of its children’s hospital. Loma Land, as the feature is called, allows users to create their own animated characters that accompany them through the lobby, turning what can be a daunting hospital visit into a moment of fun.

Hospitals are already high-stress environments, so organizations should seize opportunities to find creative ways for patients to interact with the space, said Trevor Wright, CEO and executive vice president for hospital affairs at Loma Linda University Health. Hospitals that can help calm patients will set themselves up for success. Patients listen better when they have lower anxiety, which can lead to better clinical outcomes, Wright said.

The completely donor-funded project also offers a tangible impact that satisfies donors and hopefully attracts more donations. Staff members have benefited from the installation as well, enjoying a fun diversion during stressful shifts.

It’s a transformative project that allows the children’s hospital to foster a more positive consumer experience than it has historically offered, Wright added.

Such features allow hospitals to differentiate themselves in a crowded healthcare market, especially through reputation. Adaptable communication and wayfinding can link to other technologies and be cost-effective. They also help hospitals engage with their philanthropic base.

Necessary Investments for the Future of Care

Mayo Clinic shared recent developments in its long-term plans to transform Rochester, Minn., with a new medical campus.

Adam Copeland, director of digital strategy at Mayo Clinic, said that the new buildings are being imagined as part of a patient’s care team. Personalization is the future of healthcare, he said, and Mayo Clinic hopes to deliver a hyper-personalized experience.

As the organization thinks through the technologies that will be a part of the new campus, Copeland said that the emphasis is on elevating human interactions and experiences. How can healthcare facilities blur physical and virtual spaces to surround patients with the care that they need at the right time and in the right place?

Tara Gosse, director of clinical innovation at Mayo Clinic, said that the design was planned with maximum flexibility and future generations in mind. She highlighted four areas of aspiration: ambient intelligence, anticipating patient needs with exemplary customer service, predictive resource delivery and continuous care models. 

As Mayo Clinic Nurse Administrator Heidi Shedenhelm put it, “Patients are going to feel like they’re known and cared for long after they leave.”

Story by Teta Alim, an editor for HealthTech magazine.

Teta Alim

Teta Alim is an editor for HealthTech.