"Atriums win architecture awards, but they don't save lives," Sadler says.
More efficient use of nursing time, less time spent looking for needed equipment, safer bathroom configurations, natural light, and reductions in noise can all have a payoff that can lower errors and the need for care that won't get reimbursed.
Sadler says studies show how reducing the number of times a patient is handed off or must be wheeled around the hospital reduces errors and infections, and allowing families more time with patients can reduce length of stay.
Quality improvement through design
Which brings us back to Palomar. Its new 740,000 square-foot, 11-story building is part of a three-hospital system that makes up the largest hospital district in California. It serves Escondido, a 146,000-population suburb about 30 miles north of San Diego, replacing a 300-bed facility that is 62 years old. Palomar has a 500,000 patient catchment of 800 square miles.
Yes, the $522.7 million University Medical Center of Princeton, NJ, which opened May 22 with 231 beds, incorporates many of the same technologies. So does the Department of Defense's $1 billion, 120-bed Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in Virginia, which opened last September, or the $1.1 billion, 560-bed Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, which opened May 1.
But Palomar gets more points, Covert says, because among the 20 features that set it apart, the facility is incorporating seven or eight evidence-based features that no one else has.