Design Impacts Healthcare

Julie Elliott in LSU Quad

Julie Elliott

By: Julie Elliott

In my 30-year career in healthcare design, I have witnessed the dramatic shift in the healthcare delivery model. Consumerism and self-care, uncertainty in healthcare payment reform, shifts from volume to value, growth of enabling technologies, and the delivery of care in settings closer to home are all burgeoning trends. These trends require that health organizations assess their geographic footprint and physical plant, as the built environment will play a critical role in the success of this future model of care.

I am excited to enter the next chapter of my career at my alma mater, LSU School of Interior Design, teaching the health and wellbeing design studio to future generations of designers. Our school’s mission goes beyond healthcare spaces and accommodations, creating spaces that enable and improve the human condition – bringing out the best of who we are, and providing a lasting and positive impact on outcomes. Providing comfort through purposeful design.

“There are easy things one can do to make the built environment encourage people to want to be more active, and to engage with nature.”

During the spring 2019 semester, students researched and integrated LEAN and Evidence-Based Design (EBD) best practices for outpatient facilities. Students had the opportunity to shadow one of the primary care teams at Ochsner’s newly opened High Grove Medical Complex, conducting observations on the 8 healthcare flows: flow of patients, flow of families, flow of staff, flow of medications, flow of information, flow of supplies, flow of equipment.

After analyzing the research and data, the students built an exam room mock-up that incorporated EBD best practices.

Smiling female students in waiting room constructed from cardboard

Interior design students design mock waiting rooms

Some design considerations that impact health outcomes include:

  • Commuter stairs with access to natural daylight
  • Universally designed walk ways and trails
  • Convenient water bottle filling stations
  • Sit to stand desks
  • Access to outdoor spaces
  • Respite areas
  • Spaces that engage the senses
  • Access to fresh produce markets

Louisiana ranks as one of the least healthy states in the country.

Every state ranked by healthiness. Map of US color coded to indicate states' health levels. Southern states in red, New England and west coast are in blue. Louisiana is darkest red color.

Why is that? It is a big question…

In the fall, Health and Wellbeing students will begin to research and assess the built environment and health of our population here at LSU, exploring innovative ideas to elevate the health and wellness of students, faculty, and administration.

Julie Elliott is an instructor in the LSU School of Interior Design who has over 20 years of planning, design and project management experience in the healthcare arena. She has worked in leadership roles alongside large healthcare networks developing new construction and renovation projects that include: Stanford Health Care, Veterans Health System, Catholic Health Initiatives and Kaiser Permanente.