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SEPTEMBER 24-26, 2024
Austin Convention Center - Austin, Texas

Author: Jenabeth Ferguson

Advisory Board Back in Chicago

At the end of January, advisory boards members once again met in Chicago for a day long brainstorming session. Over 20 members of the all-volunteer group traveled to Chicago to meet in person with another 9 members joining us virtually.  The primary goal of the advisory board meeting is to ensure that the Symposium addresses the most pressing challenges and opportunities facing the healthcare design and construction industry today. We start with asking the group “what is keeping you up at night?”

This year the rule was you could not say you “staff shortages” or “too much work” because everyone is in that same boat. One of the main points of discussion was the pressing need to effectively pass on the accumulated expertise of the baby boomers to the younger generation of healthcare design professionals. Millennials, characterized by their digital fluency, innovative thinking, and collaborative approach, represent the future of the industry. However, there are a lot of challenges including with the transfer of knowledge between these generations including differing communication styles, technology integration, cultural shifts and retention of institutional knowledge.

Baby boomers prefer face-to-face interactions and formal communication channels, while millennials gravitate towards digital platforms and informal networks. While the boomers may possess a deep domain knowledge they lack familiarity with the latest technologies shaping healthcare delivery or even offer productivity.  The meeting underscored the importance of fostering a culture of continuous learning and mentorship within healthcare and AEC organizations.  As baby boomers retire or transition into advisory roles, there is a risk of losing institutional knowledge vital for maintaining operational efficiency and quality of care.  Finding a way to bridge the communication gap, integrate new technologies, creating platforms for intergenerational collaboration and strategies to capture institutional knowledge will be critical as this transition continues.

In 2023 we launched the Symposium Emerging Leader Scholarship program to give recognition to individuals with less than 10 years (non-consecutive) of experience in healthcare design and construction including research and/or education.  We had nearly 25 scholarship recipients at the event in Charlotte and they were invited to interact and engage with our advisory board with the hope that we’ll not only support their professional development but also find the next generation of advisory board members who will help us continue to shape the event in a way that serves their needs.

These conversations are going to need to continue not only at board meetings but at the annual event each fall. We also hope to incorporate sessions that talk about healthcare organizations and AEC firms that are finding ways to effectively bridge the communication gap, use new technologies, create platforms for the intergenerational collaboration and capture institutional knowledge. The future of the industry depends on it.

Best,
Jenabeth

Jenabeth Ferguson
Vice President, Symposium & Expo
Healthcare Facilities Symposium & Expo

PS. If you have a suggestion or comment about the Symposium please feel free to reach out at any time at [email protected].

From the bedside to the C-Suite to consulting: Insights from an expert of integrating new technology

By: Caryn Hewitt, MBA, BSN, CENP, CPHQ, Senior Director, Consulting Services at CenTrak

The expression, “It takes a village…” isn’t exclusive to parenting. In my experience, thoughtfully planning, strategizing, and implementing emerging technology and design layouts within a new healthcare facility should take a community mindset. In line with the village advice, healthcare facilities consist of many different groups that must come together, interact positively, and collaborate for the betterment of the goal. To apply the village mindset in a new facility or implementation, various departments in the health system (nursing, IT, security, administrative, etc.) must share their expertise to ensure the facility flourishes and provides a safe environment. The village approach helps understand the direct needs of frontline staff and their patients – which increases the value of the new healthcare facility.

Throughout my career as a registered nurse, IT leader, chief information officer, director of operations, and digital health consultant, I have been given the opportunity to witness first-hand what healthcare professionals and patients want in a healthcare setting. To better understand what our colleagues and patients desire, we must invite them to the table. These individuals, once together, must serve as a sounding board to one another, listening to each other’s concerns and becoming a team when approaching senior leadership.

A recent study with the National Center for Biotechnology Information demonstrates how involving participants with different organizational and clinical backgrounds leads to higher user satisfaction when implementing technology such as electronic health records (EHR). By involving various perspectives when designing shared spaces and tools, there’s a greater chance of employee buy-in, enhanced usability, and improved efficiency and communication. This approach outlines the method personally used when integrating emerging technology and Real-Time Location Systems (RTLS) into a new 400-bed trauma hospital in North Dakota.

Where it all started: Bedside nurse turned IT leader

After a few years as a bedside nurse in the Intensive Care Unit and witnessing first-hand the growing importance of emerging technologies, I felt that I could leverage my knowledge as a nurse to implement technologies that would make a real difference for patients and staff. My goal was to make the clinicians’ lives less stressful and promote better patient care. While I understood it at the time, it’s only become more apparent to me that it is crucial that IT teams have a strong understanding of what clinical personnel do, why they are doing it, the tools used in their day-to-day workflows, and what circumstances health IT aims to solve with the technology we’re implementing.

I joined and remained in an IT role for 25 years, implementing emerging technology and real-time location systems. I found my passion and purpose, demonstrating the positive impact thoughtful technology and workflow design can make for staff and patients. I began training staff with new use cases and highlighting how to apply them in meaningful ways. I’m always aiming to make sure clinicians understand the technology and its purpose. Subsequently, following an acquisition, I was blessed with an opportunity to serve as director of operations for a new state-of-the-art facility and standardize our technologies.

Connecting with “the village” is the first step to developing the plan to implement digital solutions for a new facility or existing department. Aiming for the new hospital to be a space designed for caregivers and patients by caregivers and patients, I connected with all relevant departments to further consider the best technologies for a patient- and caregiver-centric facility.

The importance of working together on a phased assessment

Deciding on the best path forward when implementing new technology involves assessing any challenges within the current facilities and anticipating the overall needs for the next 2-5 years within a new or updated space. I recommend completing the facility analysis through a comprehensive phased approach, which includes stages such as assessment, readiness, and transformation. When stepping into the assessment stage, healthcare decision-makers need to hear input from departments such as equipment distribution, supply chain, IT, and nursing. In my weekly meetings with 100+/- departments during the new hospital development, teams shared updates to reduce siloes and ensure a standardized, purposeful plan moved forward.

Once perspectives are shared in the department manager meetings, teams must gain consensus on the proposed technology use cases to prioritize and develop a strategic roadmap, deployment plan, operational model, and budget summary. This assessment phase enables facilities to take the first step in making impactful changes with emerging technologies. Aiming for a strong ROI and factoring in the needs of the larger “village,” we pursued RTLS; a trusted technology that had been supporting the health system’s overarching goals. For example, we used RTLS data to rightsize equipment needs based on our historical utilization, a key factor when determining the mobile medical assets required to support a new facility. The location technology and sensors powering RTLS platforms use badges, tags, and wearables to provide accurate location information for equipment, patients, residents, and staff. Through an automated workflow system, teams and facility managers maintain synchronized, real-time insights and communication to continuously measure interactions, minimize bottlenecks, monitor patient milestones, evaluate movement patterns for optimal staffing, reduce workplace violence, and increase workflow efficiency throughout the healthcare facility.

Following the assessment period, the operations team should evaluate the readiness of the staff to leverage the technology. When everyone is in a room together during the weekly department meetings, there’s also the opportunity to discuss upcoming training. Following our weekly meetings, 200 Health System leaders offered to assist in department-specific and general training on the new technologies. Through simulations and role-playing, 10,000+ employees received the necessary training. This benefits staff buy-in, creates comradeship, and ensures the relevant team members understand their new devices, equipment, and platforms.

The growing comradeship and support are crucial heading into the next phase: going live and continually monitoring the actionable intelligence from the technology to transform the facility and ensure the desired ROI. Every facility has its own unique challenges as they’re fine-tuning and preparing to go live. When developing a strategic team that incorporates nurses, hospital administrators, and clinic managers as part of the implementation team, challenges can be quickly identified, escalated, and resolved to provide quick time to value for the facility.

Applying director and CIO experience to health IT consulting efforts

Pursuing technology that offers standardized processes provides layers to facilitate caregiver insights – without physically entering the room – and ensures definitive spaces in rooms for patients, staff, and family is crucial when considering patient- and caregiver-centric technology and design. Even so, initial staff support and stakeholder buy-in can present a challenge. The key components for buy-in success when implementing new technology include early transparency, leadership support, and staff education on the technology’s purpose. Successfully deploying location solutions requires incorporating the proper expertise from the healthcare facility’s individual departments and vendor partners.

To enhance the ROI following implementation, leadership should consider pursuing an ongoing staff buy-in campaign. Video education and video learning can be beneficial tools that provide small bites of information, making the information easier to digest. It also helps to continue in the mindset that RTLS and emerging technology programs start at the top, which means leadership should wear their IoT-enabled badges to show their support and belief in the program. Team leadership should also showcase RTLS staff duress tools at daily floor huddles and discuss the purpose behind the location technology.

Staff duress and/or asset management solutions are often the first step for healthcare leaders moving through a journey with RTLS. When health system leadership collaborates with “the village” to assess top pain points, decision-makers typically pursue the need to better monitor the mobile medical equipment (MME) or provide greater support to staff who may experience duress. These scalable implementations can be done step-by-step as they’re beneficial instead of requiring a full system overhaul, ensuring the technology is more accessible to all health systems. Health systems can leverage scalable technology to follow the path that best fits their needs, facility size, location, and 2–5-year plan.

After the initial selection of RTLS, teams can continue to scale the technology with various system add-ons as desired. Since implementing its real-time location system, a hospital in North Carolina has over time successfully implemented over 50 use cases leveraging real-time visibility data and reports more than $10 million in overall benefits. The healthcare facility even continues to collaborate with its RTLS partner for consulting insights to ensure the technology is used to its fullest potential. Through the scalability plan, the hospital experiences savings of more than $900,000 per year simply by deciding to additionally implement an automated temperature monitoring system. Some additional benefits include asset management, which adds a savings of $2 million per year, and an increase in staff productivity, which is valued at over $2 million savings per year for the North Carolina hospital.

Take the time to consider the road ahead

The best way to achieve a substantial increase in value and efficiency across an entire healthcare campus or within a new facility is through a personalized approach that combines a strong patient- and caregiver-focused design with a strategic roadmap that considers the goals for the future. A well-rounded internal “village” team from the health system paired with expert-led consulting and training services can develop the most accurate roadmap to ensure the right technology is implemented to drive greater workflow efficiency, higher safety standards, the ultimate patient and staff experiences, and substantial ROI. By factoring in a range of experienced input, healthcare teams can maximize emerging technologies and RTLS to drive meaningful change throughout their enterprise using practical guidance from within their “village.”

Caryn Hewitt is the Senior Director, Consulting Services at CenTrak, which offers locating, sensing, and security solutions for the healthcare industry. CenTrak has helped more than 2,000 healthcare organizations around the world build a safer, more efficient enterprise. For more information: visit centrak.com.

How Are You?

How often a day do you get asked “how are you?” and how often do you quickly, without thinking rattle off a “good” or “fine” and just move on. Lately, I’ve found myself trying to answer honestly. And sometimes that answer is not great. Or, I’m having a good morning but really, it’s been hard lately. I’ve also been trying to listen intently when other people answer the question and let them tell their story.

With so many of us working remotely these exchanges that used to take place over the “water cooler” and now they take place on Zoom or MS Teams. It seems even more important that in those settings you take the few minutes before jumping into the agenda to chat and let everyone give their personal update. It fosters better teams and relationships. And more importantly it gives us all a moment of connection.

As I’ve been offering my real answer to the how are you question lately, I’ve been more and more surprised by the responses I’m receiving. Someone the other day said to me, “gone are the days of parties and weddings, now we’re talking about divorce and illnesses”. Unfortunately, it seems true, especially as so many of us are taking care of our aging parents.

On the flip side though, if you ask the question and want more than the typical glib response, you also hear the funny stories and joy in people’s life and sometimes that joy comes out of the difficult situations. My Mom has Alzheimer’s and over a year ago we placed her in a memory care facility. It’s not easy and this is certainly not how she wanted to be spending her life. However, there is great joy and certainly a lot of funny stories to share. Just last week they took the group on an outing to a Winter Wonderland and on the way home asked my Mom if she had a good day, her response was “well no s–t I did”! And then the next thing out of her mouth was, where are the muffins you went back in to get for us? While my Mother may not remember what year it is or who is president she does not forget if she has a chance to eat a baked good.

With the world a heavy place right now, really ask the people in your life how they are and listen for their response. In this holiday season, find the funny and joy.

Wishing you and yours a happy holiday and healthy New Year.
Jenabeth

Vice President, Symposium & Expo
Healthcare Facilities Symposium & Expo

Rethinking Healthcare Facility Designs for Increased Patient- and Family-Centered Care

By: Matt Goche, CEO of Uniguest

When it comes to the patient experience, first impressions are crucial. Healthcare systems seek to develop long-lasting relationships with new and existing healthcare consumers and initial encounters can make or break an experience. New patients, existing patients, and loved ones often take measures to ensure they’re prepared for a visit before stepping into a facility, including confirming directions, parking information, and travel time. I have certainly experienced this mindset when preparing for an appointment or supporting family. Once patients are physically in the healthcare facility, effective visual communications assist in creating a welcoming environment. This is important. The use of digital signage, patient engagement tools, and wayfinding empowers patients and visitors during a time when they may feel a lack of control. Reducing the stress associated with a hospital visit and increasing patient engagement is essential to elevating the overall experience.

As healthcare becomes increasingly competitive, the line between patient and customer blurs. Healthcare facilities must anticipate needs and meet expectations in a timely manner with intuitive solutions and clear communication. Patient expectations are constantly evolving, and leadership, architects, and facilities managers must upgrade designs and technologies to meet these needs while accommodating staff as well. The growing reliance on technology in everyday life is leading to an increase in demand for digital solutions throughout the healthcare journey for all stakeholders. In fact, 84% of healthcare leadership surveyed by HIMSS Research agree that their patients are demanding a “more personalized, holistic digital experience” and the Deloitte 2022 Consumer & Physician Survey revealed that 90% of patients want digital engagement and navigation options. At the same time, Experian Health survey results reveal that 100% of respondents feel staffing shortages have affected patient engagement efforts.

The solution? Thoughtful facility designs and comprehensive engagement systems that help staff reallocate time to patient care. Through this approach, caregivers gain more collaboration with patients to focus on their unique needs and achieve higher-quality outcomes.

Patient Engagement and Family-Centered Care Go Hand-in-Hand

Impactful patient engagement calls for an approach that considers the patient and loved ones at each step of care (planning, delivery, and evaluation) to mutually benefit relationships among patients, providers, and families. It is about better engaging care partners and positioning support around each unique family to drive better outcomes. Increasingly prevalent, the Institute for Patient- and Family-Centered Care says this approach “redefines the relationships in healthcare by placing an emphasis on collaborating” and serves to “promote the health and well-being of individuals and families.”

Leveraging family-centered care allows for a more human experience for everyone and creates greater trust for a smoother care journey. I envision the utilization of the family-centered care model increasing throughout the industry as health system leadership works to implement new technologies within their facility designs. This can be supported in large part at the point of care by implementing a digital engagement strategy that incorporates touchpoints throughout the care journey for improved experiences and outcomes.

Digital Engagement Platforms Guide and Support Patients

Technology is reshaping how consumers access healthcare services and communicate with their providers. From accessing “Doctor Google” to gain insights on what may be ailing us to connecting through a myriad of available digital front doors and making online bill payments, we live in a digital-first, self-service world. Therefore, when patients and families visit facilities for care, the design has to fit this ethos in order to drive engagement, collaboration, and comfort. Patients of all ages are more likely to interact with a system that’s intuitive and familiar. We need to make it easy to ensure the best level of engagement and create a sense of control for patients every step of the way.

Hospitals can be both intimidating and confusing. Some medical centers cover multiple city blocks, causing navigation challenges for first-time and repeat patients alike. Medical campuses often change over time and each new unit or building can disrupt a patient’s previously known path. Navigating the floors and hallways can be equally daunting and add to an already elevated stress level. Consumer-accessible digital wayfinding solutions develop a clear route to guide the user through the navigation process step by step, creating a sense of comfort and control for patients and loved ones at first encounter. Building floorplans are overlaid onto a private, intuitive Google Maps-type interface, allowing users to have a sense of familiarity while gaining contextual information regarding their location and destination. Through interactive maps or directional displays, digital wayfinding solutions foster the independence that is required to manage your health. It’s subtle but it matters.

Once acclimated, a digital engagement platform can guide the family throughout their journey. Large-format video walls welcome arriving patients in a lobby, atrium, and common areas with healing and relaxing imagery that can be placed in rotation with other messaging throughout the day. Common content for signage in common areas includes population health-focused messaging such as reminders to schedule wellness visits, information on getting vaccinations and screenings; seasonally-focused messages such as details on flu shots or managing the heat; and program promotions for at-risk populations that reinforce the system’s commitment to supporting health at all times.

For outpatient visitors, location-specific digital signage solutions in waiting rooms can provide wait times, staff bios, related services, and relevant patient education and discharge content. By proactively providing the answers to the frequently asked questions, stress is reduced while self-efficacy is built. For hospital staff, it is worth noting that each of these endpoints can be easily managed from a central content management system.

Design Health Systems According to Patient Comfort

In the patient room, an Interactive Patient Care System (IPS) transforms the latest smart TV technology into a communication hub for education, empowerment, and, of course, entertainment. Back-end integrations from a range of health information technology (HIT) including the EHR, dietary, engineering, and facilities, allow access to directed patient education, meal ordering, room controls, and service requests conveniently through the device of a patient’s choosing, including a traditional pillow speaker, a hospital provided tablet, or a personal device paired to the system. Again, by providing access through the easy and familiar, system usage increases as families become more comfortable in an unfamiliar environment during an unsettling time.

More advanced IPS systems include additional communication endpoints beyond the TV. The set of HIT integrations can be leveraged to communicate information directly to the patient, family, and staff through a digital whiteboard and to the clinician through a digital door sign. These implementations are designed to build trust and allow each party to remain on the same page throughout the care process. For example, such tools can be set to include the patient’s schedule for the day. This information shows the patient and family what to expect, how to prepare for their daily activities, and where and when key elements are taking place. Through these insights, patients know when they’d like loved ones to be present without the nurse providing a manual rundown.

The IPS also provides advantages for overworked and resource-constrained staff. By automating repetitive tasks such as documenting patient education in the EHR or updating dry-erase boards and offloading non-clinical tasks like adjusting room lighting and heat or ordering a meal, nurses have the opportunity to be more efficient, gain additional time with patients, and practice at the top of their license. More importantly, with less “drudgery,” job satisfaction is increased and employee turnover is decreased.

Digital Engagement Encourages Human-Centered Care

Rising consumerism and increasing competition in healthcare have created a demand for quick access to the information and experiences desired by the patient. Additionally, technological advances have also changed the way providers want to access information and deliver care. Every step of the care journey is essential as healthcare teams strive to deliver high-quality outcomes, reduce avoidable readmissions, and build long-lasting relationships with patients. A comprehensive digital engagement platform incorporated into facility designs helps a healthcare organization stand out as a provider of superior, high-quality, family-centered care.

 

Matt Goche is the Chief Executive Officer of Uniguest. He brings extensive technology and cybersecurity background to Uniguest with a track record of growing revenue and achieving business results. Since Matt joined Uniguest in 2016 as Chief Operating Officer, later as President, and now as Chief Executive Officer, Uniguest has dramatically grown revenue, expanded the employee base, acquired marquee companies, and moved into new markets with new product offerings. Uniguest now has 15 offices across the globe and supports a customer base of over 20,000 customers.

Better Together Like Peanut Butter and Jelly: Delivering High-Impact Functional Programming in Healthcare Design through Collaboration

By: Christopher K. Gargala MSN, RN-BC, CCRN-K, Sheila M. Kelty DHA, MBA, LSSBB and Paul L. Macheske FAIA, FACHA, LEED AP

Crafting the perfect sandwich comes down to ingredient selection, balance of each, and complementary flavors. The peanut butter and jelly sandwich is arguably the most recognized sandwich in the United States, and one that enables people to grow and sustain themselves. Peanut butter provides protein and substance, whereas jelly provides a complementary flavor, texture, and balance. In a similar way, health systems that are focused on growth and sustaining the organization can find complementary, balanced, and joyful outcomes for their projects by bringing together independent teams (ingredients) with specialized experience.

Synergy of Collaboration

Healthcare organizations engaging in building projects desire a facility with both form and function – a building’s peanut butter and jelly. They are looking for a building that delights the senses, inspires hope, welcomes patients and family members upon arrival, and enables the orchestration of efficient workflows for caregivers, physicians, and staff. Traditionally, a healthcare organization may use their architect firm as the sole vendor for the functional programming phase of design. This methodology inadvertently creates gaps that often must be addressed by the organization later in the project. Utilizing a functional programming planner with healthcare experience including clinical, ancillary, and support operations as well as executive leadership experience enhances the expertise the architect brings to the project by invoking user groups to translate their needs to individuals that are their peers and who have the experience of mastering built projects. Including a multidisciplinary team from the healthcare organization at the onset provides insight into the culture of the organization. Each of these groups has their own expertise and although they are knowledgeable about some areas that overlap, many would benefit from the expertise of those who can help to translate their operational skillset into rooms, space, and buildings. We will explore more about each of these groups— AHCA Board Certified Architects, Healthcare Operations Consultants, and Healthcare Organizations—and their expertise and the gaps in their ability related to the functional programming phase of a new building project.

AHCA Board Certified Architects

Expertise

The architect is a vital part of the project from beginning to end; one who brings tactile definition to the project framed by the client’s vision and goals, while holding the liability to comply with complex codes and life safety regulations and incorporate best practices as licensed professionals. Architects who specialize in healthcare are board certified by the American College of Healthcare Architects (ACHA) and have demonstrated expertise.[1] Similar to medical professionals who obtain board certifications for Neurosurgery or Cardiology, ACHA Board Certified Healthcare Architects meet or exceed high thresholds in experience and testing and thereby are credentialed by their organization, lead development of best practices and approaches, meet rigorous standards, and demonstrate competence in a highly complex field. Just as you would not consider receiving brain surgery by a non-board-certified neurosurgeon, hospitals should seek healthcare architects that are ACHA certified. Healthcare Architects recognize the challenges that healthcare systems face, from declining reimbursements to higher operational costs. Instituting innovative technology in building materials can help your building be more sustainable, lower your energy costs, and reduce your carbon footprint. Healthcare Architects utilize renderings, departmental and room use floor plans, and other deliverables to obtain user approval at design phase milestones.

Gaps

Not all architects who offer design services are ACHA Board Certified Healthcare Architects and many architects do not have boots-on-the-ground experience in hospital operations. Generally, their experiences do not include caring for patients nor family members in a healthcare setting. Understandably, most practicing architects have not personally experienced the daily staffing of a clinical unit with a declining workforce and excessive cost of travelers and locums and can benefit by the balance of jelly to the peanut butter they provide.

Healthcare Operations Consultants Expertise

The Healthcare Operations Consultants balances patient focus, employee focus, and operational throughput based on real-life healthcare experience. Building projects are not the primary focus of healthcare organizations. The organization may have a small team of people who have roles in building and construction, but healthcare operations team members are not released from their clinical role to plan, develop, and build buildings over what is sure to be an extensive period.

Healthcare Operations Consultants with deep, personal experience working in the healthcare sector have worked with—and have had their organizations impacted by—state department of health requirements and accreditation requirements. They have faced the challenges of staffing and operational budgets. Healthcare Operations Consultants have often had the privilege of working in or with numerous healthcare organizations and have had a hand in building projects of all sizes and budgets. The consultants also have access to evidence-based best practices and a diversity of experience in Lean processes. Utilizing this experience in conjunction with the healthcare architect can help the healthcare client identify risks and potential workflow issues in the initial stages of programming, thus shortening future design phases. Their vast personal experience, membership in professional organizations, and deep understanding of healthcare processes are paramount to the role and value they bring to functional programming. And just like the many potential flavors of jelly that can complement peanut butter, Healthcare Operations Consultants come with a wide variety of credentials from registered nurses, physicians, imaging technicians, and therapists to non-clinical backgrounds such as patient access, financial services, administration, and other ancillary and support areas.

Gaps

Healthcare Operations Consultants are not architects. They do not have the level of design experience that the architect is contractually bound to uphold. Although they participate in building projects in many cities and states, their knowledge of building codes may not be current or may not pertain to the geographic location of the client. They have myriad experience in many healthcare organizations, but still need to understand the culture, vision, and patient base of the client to support programming.

Healthcare Organizations (Client) Expertise

Many times, functional programming efforts include executive management but lack involvement from direct care staff members. Incorporating the hands-on staff from the beginning of the functional programming process allows the programming team to ascertain what is going well and should be replicated in the new build. Doing so also allows the team to determine operational areas and processes that do not work well in the existing facility and need to be reimagined for the new facility. Listening carefully to the current staff during programming helps bring the complete operational picture into focus and reduces the risk of change orders later in the process. The hands-on or front-line staff from the client organization can be likened to the bread that is the main ingredient in the peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Without the bread, there is no sandwich.

Gaps

The healthcare organization leaders may have functional programming duties for the project without removing any of their current workload, which adds to their day and presents competing priorities. Their primary focus remains the day-to-day clinical focus for their patients. Similarly, they may be siloed in their view of the care or service they provide. Or, when asked by the architect what their needs are to inform the design of a new facility, the default may be to replicate what they have grown accustomed to within current space. Unintentionally, representatives of a particular service or care area may prioritize their portion of the continuum of care over other services. The information provided by each service areas’ team members must be addressed holistically in programming to align with the operational requirements of other departments and services lines.

Collaboration creates a complete package

Constructive collaboration between a Healthcare Operations Consultant, an AHCA Board Certified Healthcare Architect, and representatives of the Healthcare Organization that begins in the earliest stages of the project allows for a 360-degree view of the healthcare organization’s needs. This collaboration allows for simultaneous review and updates to processes that result in the infrastructure to develop service lines, departmental space designs, and overall building designs meeting the needs of the healthcare organization. A workshop-based process allows teams to work both separately and collaboratively throughout functional programming.

Workshops and Communication

The modern healthcare environment provides opportunities for Healthcare Organizations to partner with entities who are geographically distant through virtual synchronous and asynchronous means such as virtual meetings and cloud file sharing. While virtual synchronous and asynchronous collaboration offers extraordinary benefits for communication and collaboration, the programming process requires an elevated level of engagement that benefits from face-to-face meetings. Architects, Healthcare Operations Consultants, and Healthcare Organizations achieve great benefit with primarily in-person collaboration augmented by virtual modalities.

A collaborative workshop approach assists the functional programming process. Initial workshops should focus on building a cohesive project team, establishing guiding principles, and gaining executive leadership buy-in and support. Subsequent workshops should be service-line specific and include key front-line staff members and appropriate decision makers. Service-line specific workshops should include a current state analysis (including opportunities to improve) to create a thorough understanding. The remainder of the functional programming process should then focus on future state space needs and wants as related to staffing, departmental spaces, technologies, and equipment. Though the Healthcare Operations Consultants lead these workshops, it is crucial that the Architects are engaged in an active listening and analysis mode. Real-time input and space program editing can occur from an architectural perspective. Furthermore, engaging dialogue often surfaces the most collaborative solutions to the most complex problems.

Communication is a challenge waiting for an optimized solution with every project; functional programming is no exception. Not only is leveraging collaborative project management tools (synchronous and asynchronous) imperative to a successful functional program, but it is also crucial to minimize the number of tools in use. At the beginning of the engagement, there should be clear expectations about which tools the team will utilize, and in which instances they will use each tool. The Healthcare Organization should be a part of this vital conversation; doing so will streamline processes and reduce rework in the future.

Final Product

The Healthcare Operations Consultants and the Architects have distinct responsibilities for the final functional programming deliverable. Generally, Architects define the space program and, in some cases, draw bubble (adjacency) diagrams with concurrent and collaborative input from Healthcare Operations Consultants. Healthcare Operations Consultants, on the other hand, write the functional program document, which is an owner-required deliverable under the FGI Guidelines for the Design of Healthcare Facilities[2]. The Healthcare Operations Consultants synthesize the relevant information from all the preceding workshops and present it in a compelling, comprehensive way that meets the needs and vision of the Healthcare Organization. The Healthcare Organization’s needs, vision, and service to patients must be at the center of all discussions and decisions related to the functional program. Given that design and construction is not the primary daily focus of healthcare systems, concurrent collaboration utilizing the skills and expertise of both the Architect and the Healthcare Operations Consultant allows for the creation of a well-rounded and effective functional program.

The final functional program serves as a starting point for the remainder of the construction project. It is a living document that when consulted, should point the client and project team toward their desired future state. This lengthy document could collect dust on the COO’s bookshelf, but we would caution against that. Instead, it should operate as a go-to resource for the entirety of the project. A well-crafted, and often-referenced, functional program will help clients shorten future design phases, ensure front-line voices were heard, identify risks and decisions early, reduce the propensity of change orders, and, ultimately, deliver the best peanut butter and jelly sandwich: a healthcare facility that attracts top talent and changes a community for future generations.

[1] About ACHA. ACHA. (2023, April 17). https://healtharchitects.org/about/

[2] Facility Guidelines Institute. (n.d.). https://fgiguidelines.org/

 

2023 HEALTHCARE FACILITIES SYMPOSIUM & EXPO EXPERIENCED DOUBLE DIGIT ATTENDANCE GROWTH OVER 2022

Media Contact:
Sophia Lapat 212.203.6536
[email protected]

Attendees Enjoyed Exhibitor Innovations, Inspiring Keynotes, Engaging Sessions by Industry Leaders & Networking Connections, September 19-21, 2023

Charlotte, NC (September 29, 2023) – Last week, thousands of manufacturers, architects, designers, engineers, contractors and healthcare leaders convened at the Charlotte Convention Center for the 36th annual Healthcare Facilities Symposium and Expo, HFSE, one of the country’s largest shows dedicated to healthcare design and facilities, energized attendees, exhibitors, speakers and partners with compelling Keynote Presentations, 100+ Exhibitors, Conference Sessions, Networking Events, Facility Tours and much more.

“Every year our speakers, exhibitors and attendees look forward to the Healthcare Facilities Symposium and Expo as it brings together our industry as a community to hold important discussions on timely topics from Technology Innovations to Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, as well as showcase the most cutting-edge products and services in healthcare design,” said Jenabeth Ferguson, Vice President, Symposium Director. “This year we experienced record growth and are excited about what the future holds for HFSE in 2024!”

Robust Conference and Keynotes

The Symposium featured three jam-packed days of educational and insightful Sessions and Keynotes by top industry leaders. Each year, HFSE features three compelling Keynotes and this year’s speakers included Ryan Straschnitzki, former Humboldt Bronco, current Team Alberta para-ice hockey member and founder of the Straz Strong Foundation, and Susan Black, Principal and Director, Perkins Eastman Black Architects Inc, as well as a team panel discussion on Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, featuring Nancy Hanright, Sr. Director, Real Estate & Space Planning, Boston Medical Center, Karen Heater, PE, CEM, Director, Energy & Utilities, Cleveland Clinic Buildings + Design, Brian Pratt, AIA, DBIA, LEED AP, AIA, DBIA, LEED AP, Associate Vice Chancellor and Campus Architect, University of California Irvine / Division of Finance and Administration Design and Construction Services and moderator, Beth Howard, Award-Winning Independent Writer.

“With healthcare changing as rapidly as it is, having a forum like HFSE to share knowledge, best practices and innovation is great. I have had the privilege to attend this conference for years and it never disappoints. The caliber of sessions, speakers and attendees is second to none.” – Nancy Hanright, Senior Director, Real Estate & Space Planning, Boston Medical Center Health System

Expo Hall

The Expo Hall featured the most innovative products and services in the healthcare facilities industry from 100+ top manufacturers and solution providers. Many exhibitors launched new products at HFSE, getting in front of important decision makers from healthcare facilities, architecture and design firms. The Expo Floor also featured two Design Solutions Theaters where the design team galleries came alive with 15 minute mini-presentations by leading architectural firms.

“HFSE outperformed our expectations! The quality of the attendees is excellent for our type of business.” – Joe Kingston, Director, Fabrication & Advanced NDT Services, Smith-Emery Laboratories, Inc.

“This was our first show and we were impressed with the quality of attendees – we will be back next year!” – Tracey Heimpel, National Sales Director, Stance Healthcare

Symposium Distinction Awards

The annual program recognized design teams, projects and individuals who have made a profound contribution to the healthcare design industry. In addition, it recognized the best and most innovative new products within the healthcare design & construction industry. This year’s winners included: Team Award Winner: Banner Desert Medical Center – Women’s Tower Expansion, User-Centered Award Winner: Rush University Medical Center Joan & Paul Rubschlager Building, Adaptive Reuse Award Winner: Quinault Wellness Center, Individual Award Winner: Leslie Hanson, Studio Practice Leader, Health, Partner at HKS, George Pressler Under 40 Award Winner: Alexandra Vigliarolo, RA, Project Manager, Northwell Health

Product Award Categories: Most Innovative Winner: Vaask, Most Sustainable Winner: ZippSpace, Architect’s Choice Winner: MedSlide Pro from Serenity Sliding Doors.

Raffle and Charity Partner

The Healthcare Facilities Symposium and Expo as a long history of selecting charitable organizations each year, holding a raffle onsite and donating the proceeds to that charitable organization. What started as a small endeavor has grown to a highlight of the annual event with diverse organizations across the country benefitting from the HFSE’s community’s generosity. Since 2006, HFSE has donated over $186,000 to various charitable organizations. The Raffle continues to be a favorite event for attendees and this year’s beneficiary, Straz Strong Foundation, was started by Keynote speaker, Ryan Straschnitzki. The mission is to provide those with physical and mental disabilities an improvement of quality of life. $16,000 was raised to benefit Straz Strong Foundation.

“The Straz Strong Foundation was honored to be a part of the healthcare symposium in Charlotte, North Carolina! With the funds raised we will be putting it back into the community through adaptive sport equipment purchases, rehabilitation program funding and the continual pursuit to raise social awareness of the ways in which we can remove barriers for those living with disabilities. Straz Strong will continue to work towards providing Universal accessibility for all thanks to everyone’s continued support.” – Ryan Straschnitzki, Founder, Straz Strong

Emerging Leaders

The Healthcare Facilities Symposium and Expo’s NEW Symposium Emerging Leaders Scholarship Program in 2023 gave recognition to individuals with less than 10 years (non-consecutive) of experience in healthcare design and construction including research and/or education. The recognition included attending the 2023 HFSE in Charlotte, North Carolina and participating in all activities surrounding the event.

For more information about the 2024 Healthcare Facilities Symposium & Expo taking place in Austin, TX (September 24-26, 2024), visit www.hcarefacilities.com.

 ABOUT

The mission of the Healthcare Facilities Symposium & Expo is to create a multi-disciplinary environment that inspires you to evoke change and the advancement of a better delivery of healthcare through the physical space. Competitors, clients, and colleagues come together as friends to collaborate, share research, hear fresh perspectives and participate in the ever-changing conversation of your industry.

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HEALTHCARE FACILITIES SYMPOSIUM AND EXPO ANNOUNCES SYMPOSIUM DISTINCTION AWARD WINNERS

Eight Award Recipients Selected by Industry Leaders

September 19, 2023

Media Contact:
Sophia Lapat
212.203.6536
[email protected]

Charlotte, NC –The Healthcare Facilities Symposium and Expo, one of the country’s largest and leading shows dedicated to healthcare design and facilities, announces the prestigious winners of its 20223 Symposium Distinction Awards. The annual program recognizes design teams, projects and individuals who have made a profound contribution to the healthcare design industry. The program accepts submissions of all types and sizes of patient care-related facilities. In addition, it recognizes the best and most innovative new products within the healthcare design and construction industry. A total of eight awards were announced during a lunch celebration on Tuesday, September 19.

“The Symposium Distinction Awards honor and recognize individuals, teams, projects and products making a difference in our industry,” said Jenabeth Ferguson, Vice President, Symposium Director. “Our wonderful judges, James Atkinson
Vice President and Director, Healthcare Design and Planning for HDR, Inc, Marcus A. Budaus, AIA, ACHA, LEED® AP, Associate Principal / Senior Vice President for HKS, INC., Gary W Collins, AIA, NCARB, Senior Director, Healthcare for Virtual Energy Solutions, Rolando Conesa, AIA NCARB Principal for NELSON and Amy Douma, AIA, NCARB, and LEED AP, Vice President for HGA Architects and Engineers, have an important job evaluating submissions to choose this year’s winners and we are so excited to celebrate these important awards together at HFSE.”

Team Award
The Team Award focuses on a project team that has worked together to change the face of healthcare design through innovation, creativity, efficiency and teamwork.

Winner: Banner Desert Medical Center – Women’s Tower Expansion

User-Centered Award
The User-Centered Award recognizes a healthcare design project or facility that best reflects and balances the requirements of patients, their family and practitioners.

Winner: Rush University Medical Center Joan & Paul Rubschlager Building

Adaptive Reuse Award
The Adaptive Reuse Award recognizes a healthcare design project that creatively achieved the reuse of an existing structure or space originally used for another purpose.

Winner: Quinault Wellness Center

Individual Award
The Individual Award seeks to distinguish a professional in the fields of healthcare planning, design, construction and operations that have displayed leadership and vision over a significant period of their career. This award looks to recognize an individual whose passion and driven their organizations or project teams to enhance the healing environment and a way above and beyond.

Winner: Leslie Hanson, Studio Practice Leader, Health, Partner at HKS

George Pressler Under 40 Award 
The George Pressler Under 40 Award seeks the next generation of leaders within the fields of healthcare planning, design, construction and operations. The George Pressler Award recognizes a young professional who has demonstrated leadership and vision within their organization or project teams.

Winner: Alexandra Vigliarolo, RA, Project Manager, Northwell Health

 Product Awards
The Product Awards recognize innovative new products that contribute to the enrichment of a healing environment through their unique design and operational support.

Product Award Categories
Awards will be presented to those outstanding new products whose unique design contributes to the enrichment of a healing environment in each of the following product categories:

Most Innovative

Winner: Vaask

Most Sustainable

Winner: ZippSpace – Smart Soft Locker Solution from Switzerland revolutionizes storage experiences worldwide

Architect’s Choice

Winner: MedSlide Pro

For more information about the Symposium Distinction Awards, please visit www.hcarefacilities.com

 ABOUT

The mission of the Healthcare Facilities Symposium & Expo is to create a multi-disciplinary environment that inspires you to evoke change and the advancement of a better delivery of healthcare through the physical space. Competitors, clients, and colleagues come together as friends to collaborate, share research, hear fresh perspectives and participate in the ever-changing conversation of your industry.

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Rethinking Healthcare Design to Appeal the Workforce Shortage

By Julian Lopez, NCIDQ, IIDA, Senior Project Designer at HMC Architects.

When it comes to healthcare design, the vernacular among architects and designers must revolve around the patient experience, healing environments, and promoting healthier local communities. This common verse among healthcare professionals has not only been mastered, but it has also, from time-and-time again, been regurgitated by the formulations of evidence-based design, positioning architect and design firms to create the next best healthcare facility. Then came Covid-19 and, healthcare facilities have had to reinvent themselves multiple times over the course of the pandemic. How times have changed.

As Covid-19 emerged, not only were entities forced to shut down elective services, but they became the imminent forefront for humanity. Quickly, they found themselves in survival mode for their operating budgets and the lives of their own professionals.
The world has not been the same, and neither has the healthcare workforce after the exhaustion and burnout of facing Covid-19 head-on since early 2020. As a result, the healthcare workforce crisis continues to threaten organizations while hospital employment continues to decline.

“Prioritizing design around the patient experience is no longer the only priority,” said CEO of Alta Hospitals, Hector Hernandez, MD, MBA. “For the first time in my 30 years in healthcare administration, I have had to become extra creative by finding ways to retain nursing and clinical ancillary staff. This has included providing additional break rooms, Zen-type meditation rooms, spaces to provide pet therapy for employees and physicians, while enhancing cafeteria services that operate 24/7, not to mention increasing morgue capacity and providing accommodations for those not wanting to go home due to fear of getting their family sick. Design cannot be ignored because now it accounts for what nurses and staff are looking for when making a decision to join Alta Hospitals.”

What does this ultimately mean for healthcare designers?
More than ever, designing those support areas for healthcare providers such as staff lounges, staff dining facilities and physician on-call rooms, among other spaces, must be closely analyzed and programmatically defined to account for the healthcare workforce incentive factor.
The design-build team of Hensel Phelps | HMC Architects | CO Architects is leading the design and construction of Harbor UCLA Medical Center Replacement Program, one of HMC Architects’ largest healthcare projects. The new 468,000 SF inpatient care tower with 346 beds, as well as a 403,000 SF outpatient treatment center and support building is not only looking closely at what the design means for patient care, the project is analyzing how the design also supports those who care for the patients.
While staff safety has always been crucial for HMC, taking a closer look at what this means coming out of a pandemic has reactivated design efforts into actual checklist of items. At Harbor-UCLA, patient-and-staff interaction hubs such as check-in and registration areas are being designed with aesthetic precaution. Desking must include privacy panels while other areas are divided with transaction glass windows where color and graphics help soothe environments. Taming design to not only care for patient privacy but to now account for enhanced staff protection has meant rethinking space planning layouts where social distance is layered and preferred. Waiting areas where tandem seating once allowed for maximizing occupancy loads are now becoming dispersed and accounting for safety versus overcrowding.
While HMC continues to design in support of enhanced patient care, and operational and sustainable efficiency, the design-build team’s efforts with Harbor-UCLA are consequently addressing the importance for employee mental health as well.

The project is aiming for LEED Gold Certification. Ensuring sustainability goals are met throughout the entire campus program results in strong design efforts that support employee wellness and reducing burnout and turnover.

Aesthetically, the design incorporates the surrounding environment. Local textures and colors of the harbor and calm local South Bay are reminiscent through material textures and curved finishes. Biophilic design concepts are used throughout; expanded visibility of the native landscape and natural light that seeps into the main lobby and other employee and patient areas provide staff and visitors the opportunity to mentally reset and restore.

Hernandez, CEO of three Alta Hospitals in Southern California not only recommends focusing on spaces dictated by our local labor force and younger generations, but emphasized on how we must also address diversity, equity and inclusion for the thousands of nurses and healthcare professional coming from countries such as the Philippines, India, Canada, and Mexico, among others. Their cultural differences must be addressed for their better adaptation and cultural transgression issues related to their relocation to the United States.
According to YM Careers Network, one of many recruiting organizations connecting Millennials and Gen Z healthcare talent with healthcare systems, it is important to have modern, tech-friendly systems in place to attract today’s candidates. It’s important to design for technology systems that support staff communication and efficiency such as remote interview areas, intentional kiosk locations within hospitals, and mobile-friendly interfaces and communication, all of which serve as part of the recipe for a tech-friendly recruitment approach.

For designers, this means having to heighten our knowledge on how we view and design around technology and cultural barriers. Design for the healthcare professional coming from another country and cultural background, must account for religion, gender identification and ethnicity to make them feel welcomed and diminish possible barriers.
At Harbor-UCLA, designing around technology to support staff communication and operating efficiencies means keeping an outlook for future technological needs and not ignoring how future healthcare talent will approach technology. This means not designing wall niches for queuing monitors or a television in public waiting areas, as we are used to doing because we don’t know what the future holds for queuing system technologies or if a television of a specific display size will continue to serve an entire waiting area.
So, what does this all mean for healthcare designers and architects acclimating to this new healthcare era?
The answer is simple. Designing in post-pandemic times requires that we address not only the immediate urgencies that will mitigate a dwindled workforce but that we continue to design for future generations while not overlooking to tune up the true healthcare engine—the healthcare workforce, a locomotive force that served us when we needed them most.

Building the future of healthcare facilities with a concierge luxury approach

By:Joel George MBA, MSN, RN, PhD candidate, Executive Director of Retail Services l Health Parks, AdventHealth

The hospitality industry currently accounts for 11% of the US GDP and is valued at around 3953 billion dollars. Hospitality is one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing industries, as it covers more than 25 sectors, from hotels and resorts to restaurants, event planning, theme parks, and tourism. With the amount of attention to detail the hospitality industry places on their products, why is healthcare not reaching this consumer base by implementing consumer-centric personalized experiential moments in a similar way?

Over the years, I have wondered why healthcare has suffered a negative connotation of being looked at as dark, sterile environments where patients go for reactive care. It is time to change that approach as the new generation of consumers are searching for personalized exclusivity in healthcare. Three years ago, I set a goal to figure out what consumers truly want to see in an ideal healthcare setting. My motto has always been, if we want to know what consumers want, ask them! Starting as a registered nurse and witnessing firsthand what patients actually experience by walking into a dark, sterile environment propelled me to focus on a new vision of consumer centricity and how patients would ideally want to experience a healing environment. I was blessed with an opportunity to serve as director of radiology for a AdventHealth after practicing as an ER nurse for 4 years. The moment I stepped foot into the radiology department, I wanted to transform the patient experience by taking their mind off of the imaging exam they were coming in for and putting them at ease. The entire department was beachside themed with sandcastles covering the MRI machine, cabana areas as dressing rooms, and ocean sounds playing while patients were drinking their contrast media. My goal was to embed the newest innovative technology within the department. We were able to pilot a front desk concierge digital experience to keep family members informed in the lobby as their loved ones were having a procedure or scan done. We saw that through these meaningful enhancements within the environment and use of technology, the administration of sedatives prior and during exams decreased by 2.5%, which helped with overall departmental cost savings.

Three years ago, I was asked to work on a special project focused on dreaming up ideas for the future of health care. The goal was to understand consumer behaviors and understand what patients would like to see in an ideal healthcare setting. The CEO asked eight specialized innovators, including myself to travel to New York and work with a creative agency on ideas that would be consumer-focused and push innovation forward. While there, ideas circled around creating a one-stop shop facility called Health Parks across our healthcare system. We wanted to focus on developing these buildings to have an elevated concierge approach along with a luxury feel. We went directly to the consumer through the implementation of a survey and asked what they wanted to see and experience in a fully immersive medical office building. The themes that were important to them were; a clean environment, one-bill, access (extended hours), and a seamlessly connected experience with a single EMR.

With this feedback, we worked with a team to build out our first “Health Park” in our healthcare system in 2020. The services in the building included lab, imaging, physical therapy, primary care, and specialty medical practices creating a true one-stop facility. It was important to ensure we had natural light in the building with a transparent frontage, along with modern high-end luxury furniture. We also took lessons from major brands such as Apple in creating a genius bar concept front desk registration experience. The hallmark characteristics of these facilities centered around a centralized check-in experience without multiple front desks, partnering with local coffee shops and bringing them into the facility, and training each staff member on a true hospitality approach to healthcare with learnings from major brands like the Ritz Carlton and Chick-fil-A. We also created a connected experience by integrating a corridor that attached all specialty services and primary care together in a free-flowing open layout. This was intentionally built so that each practice could easily refer and transition patients on the same day. One out of three patients continue to receive multiple services on the same day. We solved the problem of healthcare access by expanding hours of operations to 7a- 10p Monday through Friday and weekend appointment availability. Over 30% of our appointments are booked after 5p Monday through Friday and on weekends, showing the need for flexible hours of operations meeting the consumer on their time. Every interaction in the health parks is a hospitality-centric experience. All of the “Engagement Specialists” (front desk associates) have been concierge trained to make sure patients receive everything they need before departing. We implemented a lifestyle program focusing on free yoga, cooking classes, and mental health talks to truly create a partnership with our patients.

My vision has always been evident in ensuring we create lifetime partnerships with our patients. I am proud to say our health parks are the highest Google-rated facilities in our system. Being a visionary who is obsessed with experience, I truly believe that the only way to retain future consumers is to create personalized, humanistic, convenient, and memorable moments for them. The future of healthcare is undoubtedly focused on personalized care, and we have found the secret sauce in truly creating a one-stop connected experience and making our patients lifetime partners at our facilities. The future of healthcare is ripe for disruption, and a consumer-centric approach is crucial to stay viable in the current healthcare environment. We must learn from luxury brands what keeps their consumers obsessed with their brands and make sure healthcare follows suit in understanding learned behaviors and anticipating needs before consumers walk through our doors.

Benefits of Electronic Bidet Seats in Assisted Living

By: Steve Grande, LIXIL Americas

As we age, even the simplest tasks can become difficult to manage. For seniors residing in assisted living facilities or retirement communities, maintaining personal hygiene is a challenge that can lead to embarrassment and discomfort. This difficulty can affect their overall health and quality of life, which is why senior living residences are always looking for ways to improve the daily living experience of their residents. Fortunately, technology has provided a solution to this problem in the form of electronic bidet seats. These seats have revolutionized the way we use the bathroom, and for seniors, they offer numerous benefits that make daily life much more comfortable.

Electronic bidet seats, which originated in Japan, have become increasingly popular in the United States in recent years, are toilet seats with integrated bidet functions. They come equipped with a control panel that allows users to customize the temperature, pressure, and position of the water spray for maximum comfort and cleanliness. Some seats also includes a warm air dryer and odor neutralizer, making the experience as seamless and pleasant as possible.

One of the most significant benefits of electronic bidet seats for seniors is improved hygiene. Many seniors struggle with hygiene issues due to limited mobility or other health issues, which can lead to infections, skin irritations, and other problems. Electronic bidet seats provide a more thorough cleaning than traditional toilet paper, which can leave behind bacteria and other contaminants. This thorough cleaning can help prevent infections and other health issues, making seniors feel more comfortable and confident in their hygiene.

Another benefit of electronic bidet seats is increased comfort. Seniors who struggle with mobility or arthritis may find it challenging to clean themselves the traditional way, which can cause pain and discomfort. Electronic bidet seats eliminate the need for wiping, which can help alleviate this discomfort and help increase the user’s dignity by not needing help in the restroom to clean up. Additionally, many electronic bidet seats feature heated seats, which can be particularly beneficial for seniors who are sensitive to sudden temperature changes.

In addition to these practical benefits, electronic bidet seats also offer a level of luxury that is often associated with high-end hotels and spas. For seniors who may have limited mobility or live with chronic pain, the warm water and heated seat can provide a soothing and therapeutic experience that is unmatched by traditional toilets.

Perhaps the most significant benefit of electronic bidet seats in senior living residences is increased independence. Many seniors struggle with tasks that were once simple, such as using the toilet. This loss of independence can be frustrating and embarrassing, particularly for seniors who value their privacy. Electronic bidet seats can help seniors maintain their independence by providing them with a tool that makes using the toilet easier and more hygienic. This increased independence can help seniors maintain their dignity and self-esteem, which can have a positive impact on their overall well-being.

While we have discussed these very human benefits, electronic bidet seats can also save senior living residences money. Traditional toilet paper can be expensive, particularly if residents require specialized or medical-grade paper. Electronic bidet seats eliminate the need for toilet paper, which can significantly reduce a residence’s annual budget. Additionally, electronic bidet seats can help prevent plumbing issues caused by flushing toilet paper, which can be particularly problematic in older buildings.

Of course, as with any new technology, there are some potential downsides to electronic bidet seats. For example, some seniors may be resistant to using a bidet seat, particularly if they are unfamiliar with the technology. Additionally, electronic bidet seats can be costly, particularly if they are not covered by insurance. With their popularity in the western world growing, we have seen prices drop considerably on electronic bidet seats from even a few years ago. However, many senior living residences have found that the benefits of electronic bidet seats outweigh the potential downsides, particularly when it comes to improving residents’ overall health and well-being. It costs very little to include power outlets at the toilet area in the design and build stage of these projects and retro-fitting existing projects can be done with a simple inspection by a plumber or electrician.

In conclusion, electronic bidet seats are an innovative and beneficial technology for senior living residences. These seats provide numerous benefits, including improved hygiene, increased comfort, and increased independence for seniors. Additionally, electronic bidet seats can save residences money and prevent plumbing issues caused by traditional toilet paper. While there may be some downsides to using electronic bidet seats, many senior living residences have found that the benefits to their residents outweigh the potential drawbacks. Overall, electronic bidet seats are a valuable tool for improving the daily living experience of seniors in senior living residences.