The ideal physical space in a virtual setting

Because the well-being and comfort of your medical staff is key to everything healthcare

Healthcare is swiftly transitioning to a virtual ecosystem. Aside from connectivity, platforms and IT, have you considered the physical space for continuous and efficient workflow as well as for the well-being and comfort of your medical staff?

Hospital Management Asia talks to Angela Poulson, Product Marketing Manager for Healthcare at Ergotron, the company that specialises in human-centred design helping us improve how we work, among other things.

Physical meets virtual

Just like how we strive to set up a workspace that allows us to be productive and comfortable, hospitals need to find the right balance with regard to providing an environment where patients and caregivers receive optimal comfort and where healthcare professionals can be most productive. Some might argue their hospitals have already taken this into account, but we are living in an era where virtual care is no longer a possibility but is a reality.

“Compared to years ago, we now have an increasing interdependence between the patient, the provider and technology,” Poulson asserts. As such, the amount of physical space should be a top consideration when considering workflow. Every hospital has a different set of needs, which serves as a basis in how they approach optimising their environment.

In a virtual healthcare ecosystem, for instance, we have to check the type of interaction, the care requirements, or the type of facility as all these will help determine the best equipment to use. To illustrate, space considerations may determine if wall-mounted workstations or mobile medical carts would be a better fit for a given healthcare environment.

The ideal space

In the shift to remote care, hospitals would require improvements to their network infrastructure to support online connectivity, data security, and seamless information exchange. Without reliable network access, virtual care won’t be feasible. Bandwidth to support streaming video in virtual care visits and stronger cyber defences are also prerequisites.

Moreover, we have to ensure that caregivers have access to the right space to conduct virtual visits. “If caregivers provide virtual care from an office in the hospital, then ample offices or other private spaces to meet virtually with their patients is a necessity,” says Poulson. This is also to protect patient information, hence, private rooms are necessary.

Lastly, hospitals may not have had all of the telehealth equipment they needed to support the dramatic uptick in virtual care visits, so an investment in additional workstations, telehealth medical carts or telecommunications equipment may have been necessary. It is important that caregivers can be able to move as they conduct virtual care visits, based on their comfort and physical needs, so a workstation that is ergonomic and height-adjustable can help them out.

Why ergonomics

When hospitals prioritise ergonomics, healthcare professionals and caregivers will be able to do their daily tasks with more ease and efficiency. Caregivers commonly work long, busy shifts and may have strenuous, physical job responsibilities; so using adaptable and customisable ergonomic equipment, like nimble medical carts or flexible wall-mounted workstations, can ease some of the physical burdens they experience, explains Poulson. Adjustable equipment, she adds, may reduce injuries or musculoskeletal disorders while making their work more efficient.

In effect, they are able to give patients more attentive care thereby, a higher quality of care the latter deserves. Likewise, when healthcare personnel feel supported and comfortable, the positive attitude reflects on the patient experience they give to patients. After all, studies have shown that there’s a link between staff and patient satisfaction. Ultimately, this translates to a positive impact on hospital revenue.

The roadblocks

For many hospitals, space and budget constraints may determine how far they can go in creating the ideal physical environment. Like any other businesses, hospitals are pressured to make sure they’re spending their budgets wisely. But when thinking about ergonomics and how doctors, nurses and other care providers are set up to work comfortably and safely, hospitals need to realise that investing in it makes economic sense.

“In a safe and comfortable environment, caregivers are better able to work more efficiently and effectively, allowing them to provide better patient care,” Poulson highlights. Also, the costs associated with worker’s compensation claims may be higher in organisations that don’t take workplace safety seriously. Thus, it is crucial that hospitals find a solution provider that has a wide product portfolio that can adapt to a range of budgets and the customer’s needs.

About Ergotron

Ergotron has worked in healthcare for 30 years and is uniquely qualified to help configure medical workstations that meet the needs of hospitals, health systems and clinics. The company has a breadth of solutions that can be tailored to fit a wide variety of workflow needs and budget considerations. Ergotron’s range of flexible, ergonomic healthcare solutions are safe and built to last. From medical carts to wall- and desk-mount monitor arms to telehealth solutions to wall-mounted computer workstations, Ergotron moves caregivers and patients forward with ergonomic products that improve workflows and drive positive patient experiences. Click below to find out how you can transform your healthcare facility for a virtual world.