What will the future of patient health care look like? Perhaps something like the “Patient Room 2020,” a project that NXT, Clemson University, and Birdtree Design are trying to bring to market in the next 10 years.
Clemson University’s Architecture + Health department have been designing, building, and evaluating multiple patient room iterations for the last eight years. Now, they are beginning to build working prototypes and test them to see if their designs can perform in real-life applications. “When you look at a typical hospital room, the technology and instrumentation is very chaotic and not designed to integrate,” adds David Ruthven of Birdtree Design. Patient Room 2020 turned that idea on its head. “We wanted to approach the room holistically,” he says.
While most of the medical care is conducted within the patient room, several key functions for patients, staff and visitors occur at the entry to the space, enter smart glass partitioning systems. Namely, the Staff Resource Station featuring sliding doors made from Smart Glass technology to allow observation without entering the room while also protecting patient privacy & addressing the issue of infection control.
A recent American study by the Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Centre in Ohio found that curtains which hang between patient beds in hospitals can become contaminated with drug-resistant bacteria and may be playing a role in the spread of these germs in hospitals.
The study showed that CDIFF, MRSA and VRE can be found on hospital privacy curtains. More worrying, researchers found that these bugs transfer onto the hands of people who handle the contaminated curtains, suggesting that health care workers who operate these may be spreading bugs. The study found that 43 percent of privacy curtains were contaminated with VRE, 22 percent of them harboured MRSA and four percent tested positive for CDIFF.
The findings, published in the Journal of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, have put contamination and privacy control in the spotlight. At the same time the healthcare industry is in the midst of substantial refurbishment projects which demand innovative design and products as hospitals continue to modernize. The benefits of using LC SmartGlass by SmartGlass International to reduce the spread of infection have seen a growing number of NHS practices incorporate LC SmartGlass into their wards. These include St Mary’s Hospital, the Royal Sunderland Hospital, London Bridge Hospital, Portland Hospital and the Windsor Knee Clinic.
The use of LC SmartGlass has helped hospitals and healthcare facilities reduce the spread of infection through the provision of easily cleaned surfaces. In addition, staff and patients alike do not need to handle the glass as they would for curtains. Consequently, this reduces the contact between people and materials.
Cleaning SmartGlass can be done far more cheaply, supporting regular cleaning regimes with much less time and effort compared with traditional partitioning. Dr. Allison McGeer, head of infection control at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital highlighted some of the issues with privacy curtains. Privacy curtains, she explained, are difficult to clean and take considerable time taking them down, washing them and putting them back up: “Changing bed linen, that’s easy. Changing privacy curtains, on the other hand, is a pain in the neck.”
SmartGlass partitioning also fits well with NHS directives to improve patient privacy and dignity by allowing patients to be in command of their surroundings. It provides for better soundproofing than curtains, giving patients enhanced control in resting and sleeping at their own behest. The material also lets in lots of light, which can help provide for a more holistic recovery process.
LC SmartGlass can be used as wall panels, internal doors and windows, x-ray screens, room dividers or mobile isolation screens. It offers the patient dignity and privacy, allowing hospital staff to safely and efficiently review patient wellbeing, while crucially providing several key facets for reducing hospital acquired infections.