Designing an appropriate space for delivering bad news:
Patient outcomes are measurably affected by the ways in which providers communicate the news of a cancer diagnosis. Many patients will start their cancer journey hearing those fateful words in a less than appropriate manner in a less than appropriate setting. Studies have linked the ineffectual delivery of bad news with increased rates of psychological morbidity so it is critical to optimize both the setting and approach. Distressed patients are hindered in their ability to be good health advocates. Patient engagement makes them partners in their own care, which in addition to being high quality care, generally improves the fiscal outcome for providers.
Environments for delivering bad news reinforce the following tenets through their design:
Providers can demonstrate their acknowledgement of the emotional nature of the situation by locating consult rooms on an interior corridor, with a discreet exit path from the consult room that does not go through the main waiting area. This gives the patient the privacy to have an emotional reaction without fear of broadcasting it to other patients. Similarly, acoustical and visual privacy helps keep patients from overhearing others’ conversations.
A consult room sized and furnished appropriately for family members also subtly translates that the patient doesn’t have to navigate their situation alone. To have sufficient space for the patient, their family, medical staff, and sometimes a surgeon to begin the dialog on a treatment plan and explore possible options, six to eight people may need to be accommodated in a standard-sized consult room.
Healthcare providers are currently facing a dizzying array of strategic and facilities challenges. At FreemanWhite, our approach integrates data, research, and best practices into our architectural solutions to help you balance cost and value.