The health of a person isn’t determined solely by their lack of physical ailments: it’s a combination of physical, mental, and social health. A beautiful, well-designed hospital does more than relax a patient—it improves staff functionality and comfort. Soliant Health’s Most Beautiful Hospitals contest is more than a beauty pageant: beyond the 170,000 votes hospitals received for looking good in 2012, these hospitals are more than just a pretty face.
Annually and adjusting for inflation, U.S. hospitals collectively spent between $39.3 billion and $49 billion on inpatient healthcare-associated infections. For adverse drug events, often caused by medication errors, U.S. hospitals spend about $5.6 million each: $1.56 to $5.6 billion throughout the country annually.
How does setting affect health? Researchers discovered that patients hospitalized for severe depression who were given sunny rooms had an average reduction of 3.67 days in their stay. “Psychologically appropriate” artwork such as waterscapes, natural landscapes, gardens, and emotionally positive art can reduce stress and relieve pain. Abstract and emotionally challenging art, on the other hand, had negative repercussions for patients.
These examples are a manifestation of medical industry buzzword that’s attaining more and more recognition. “Evidence-Based Design” is the practice of shaping the development or renovation of a facility according to information gathered during research. These designs, while costly on the front end—an additional $29 million for the ideal hospital, saved about $10 million a year in reduced operating costs and hospital errors. That means the “ideal” hospital would pay for its additional construction costs in three years.
Martha Jefferson Memorial Hospital, Charlottesville, VA
Hospital Size: 540,000 square feet
Facility Cost: $275 million
The new Martha Jefferson Memorial Hospital isn’t just a beautiful hospital. Across the board, Martha Jefferson rates higher than the national average for patient experience, nurse/doctor to patient communication, and a quiet atmosphere at night.[10,11]
Per 1,000 patients, most hospital-acquired conditions were either non-existent or below the national average. At Martha Jefferson, only one patient fell or was injured in every 3,000.[12,13] The rates of readmission for patients coming out of general medical and surgical procedures were nearly 9.5% lower than the national average.
The rate at which death occurred from serious, treatable complications after surgery was 15.5% below the national average. Collapsed lungs and serious blood clots caused by treatment and surgery were dramatically lower as well, with rates 62.8% and 41.1% lower than the national average, respectively.[15,16]
Eisenhower Medical Center, Rancho Mirage, CA
Hospital Size: 250,000 square feet
Facility Cost: $212.5 million
The resort-like addition to the Eisenhower Medical Center, the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Pavilion, pumped up the hospital’s status from community center to world-class medical facility. Like Martha Jefferson, Eisenhower boasts a high patient satisfaction rate—78% of patients surveyed rated the hospital a 9 or a 10.
Patients of Eisenhower Medical recorded no bed sores and a lower rate of blood infections from catheters compared to the national average.[13,20] Readmission rates for heart attack, heart failure, and pneumonia patients were, on average, 10.9% lower than the rest of the country’s hospitals.[21,22]
Eisenhower’s heart-failure-patient readmission rate was nearly a quarter of the U.S. rate. Surgical patients were also less likely to be readmitted or visit the emergency room within 30 days of their discharge. Like readmission rates, deaths occurring within 30 days of a heart attack, heart failure, and pneumonia were lower than the national average.[21,22]
Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare, Elmhurst, IL
Hospital Size: 866,000 square feet
Facility Cost: $450 million
A stylish and “natural” hospital that’s modeled as a resort, Elmhurst considers itself on the cutting edge of welcoming and functional facility design. The quality of care is nothing to sneeze at either. From below-average rates of post-surgery blood clots and wound splits to lower rates in collapsed lungs and cuts and tears from medical treatment, the hospital gives credence to the idea that beauty can have function.[16,25]
Elmhurst sees only one fall or injury for about 4,000 patients, less than half of the national average.[13,26] Mortality rates for pneumonia patients were 28.3% lower than the average rate for U.S. hospitals.[22,27]
These three hospitals only scratch the surface of how design can polish up the quality and efficacy of the care they deliver. As the research concerning evidence-based design grows stronger, more and more hospitals will be weighing the cost of construction against the price of inefficient facilities. In the meantime, these golden examples of superb design continue to inspire other facilities with their beauty and delivery.
Have you stayed at a gorgeous hospital? Nominate your favorite beautiful campus for Soliant Health’s Most Beautiful Hospitals of 2013 by clicking here before May 1, 2013.
 Huisman, E.R.C.M. et al. Healing Environment: A review of the impact of physical environmental factors on users, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360132312001758
 Tuten, Tera, The Top 20 Most Beautiful Hospital in the U.S. 2012… http://blog.soliant.com/most-beautiful-hospitals/2012/
 Scott, R. Douglas, The Direct Medical Costs of Healthcare-Associated Infections in U.S. Hosptials and the Benefits of Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/HAI/pdfs/hai/Scott_CostPaper.pdf
 Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Reducing and Preventing Adverse Drug Events to Decrease Hospital Costs, http://www.ahrq.gov/research/findings/factsheets/errors-safety/aderia/index.html#Costs
 Ulrich, Roger et al. The Role of the Physical Environment in the Hospital of the 21st Century: A Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity, https://d1lj51l9p3qzy9.cloudfront.net/handle/10207/bitstreams/21652.pdf
 Hathorn, Kathy and Nanda, Upali, Guide to Evidence-Based Art, http://www.healthdesign.org/chd/research/guide-evidence-based-art
 Sadler, Blair L. et al. Good Health Care by Design, http://www.thehastingscenter.org/uploadedFiles/Landing_Page/SadleretalFableHospitalBusinessCase_HastingsJan11(1).pdf
 About Us, http://www.marthajefferson.org/about.php
 MJH History, http://www.marthajefferson.org/about-history.php
 Martha Jefferson Hospital, Survey of Patients’ Hospital Experiences, https://data.medicare.gov/dataset/Survey-of-Patients-Hospital-Experiences-HCAHPS-/rj76-22dk
 Survey of Patients’ Hospital Experiences — National Average, https://data.medicare.gov/dataset/Survey-of-Patients-Hospital-Experiences-HCAHPS-Nat/89u8-shx4
 Martha Jefferson Hospital, Hospital Acquired Condition Measures, https://data.medicare.gov/dataset/Hospital-Acquired-Condition-Measures/qd2y-qcgs
 Hospital Acquired Condition — National Measures, https://data.medicare.gov/dataset/Hospital-Acquired-Condition-National-Measures/zqjn-m8m8
 Post-Discharge Events, 2010, All Available Hospitals, http://www.dartmouthatlas.org/tools/downloads.aspx#post_discharge
 Martha Jefferson Hospital, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Measures, https://data.medicare.gov/dataset/Agency-For-Healthcare-Research-And-Quality-Measure/vs3q-rxc5
 Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality — National Measures, https://data.medicare.gov/dataset/Agency-For-Healthcare-Research-And-Quality-Nationa/sdhm-um6i
 About Us, http://www.emc.org/body.cfm?id=15
 Walter and Lenore Annenberg Pavilion, http://www.emc.org/body.cfm?id=318
 Eisenhower Medical Center, Survey of Patients’ Hospital Experiences, https://data.medicare.gov/dataset/Survey-of-Patients-Hospital-Experiences-HCAHPS-/rj76-22dk
 Eisenhower Medical Center, Hospital Acquired Condition Measures, https://data.medicare.gov/dataset/Hospital-Acquired-Condition-Measures/qd2y-qcgs
 Eisenhower Medical Center, Hospital Outcome of Care Measures, https://data.medicare.gov/dataset/Hospital-Outcome-Of-Care-Measures/f24z-mvb9
 Hospital Outcome of Care Measures — National Average, https://data.medicare.gov/dataset/Hospital-Outcome-Of-Care-Measures-National-Average/i2h8-79qx
 Oh, Jaime, Illinois’ New Elmhurst Hospital Ready to Open After 3 Years’ Construction, http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/hospital-management-administration/illinois-new-elmhurst-hospital-ready-to-open-after-3-years-construction.html
 Renderings & Videos, http://www.emhc.org/locations/main-campus/renderings-and-videos/
 Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Measures, https://data.medicare.gov/dataset/Agency-For-Healthcare-Research-And-Quality-Measure/vs3q-rxc5
 Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare, Hospital Acquired Condition Measures, https://data.medicare.gov/dataset/Hospital-Acquired-Condition-Measures/qd2y-qcgs
 Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare, Hospital Outcome of Care Measures, https://data.medicare.gov/dataset/Hospital-Outcome-Of-Care-Measures/f24z-mvb9