Cornell University’s Faculty Uses AHRQ’s Transforming Hospitals DVD

Patient Safety
November 2013

Since 2010, AHRQ's "Transforming Hospitals: Designing for Safety and Quality" DVD has been incorporated into health care management and design and environmental analysis courses at Cornell University. Today, at least three professors use the DVD and teach its evidence-based design lessons to graduate students.

Brooke Hollis, MBA, Executive Director of the Sloan Program in Health Administration, uses the DVD in his class, "Fundamentals of Health Facility Planning for Managers," which is designed to teach students enrolled in health management studies how to approach facility planning and working with a design committee or in a project management role—a position students will likely encounter at some point in their careers but are often not prepared for in their education.

The class is offered one semester each year and is typically comprised of 20 to 25 students—a mix of current and future health care management professionals. The class size is limited so that students can learn hands-on skills in using architectural scales and reading blueprints. A growing body of literature describes the link between a hospital's physical design and its key quality and safety outcomes. The "Transforming Hospitals" DVD reviews the case for evidence-based hospital design and how it can help increase patient and staff satisfaction and safety, quality of care, and employee retention, as well as resulting in a positive return on investment. This is part of a larger effort in which the Sloan Program and design and environmental analysis faculty collaborate at the intersection of design and health administration, enrolling students from different disciplines and perspectives to work on teams in pursuit of common health care goals.

Hollis says, "I use the hypothetical case video clip to illustrate how evidence-based design and approaches can not only influence the environment for patient-centered care, but can also have a financial benefit that helps offset the potential additional costs. It's a salient example that you can do a lot of these things and potentially get a payback on your investment in a relatively short period of time." Too often, health care management students do not learn about evidence-based design, yet end up in positions where it could be valuable. He adds, "At the very least, with the DVD, they become aware of the questions they can ask designers."

Off campus, Hollis used part of the video in a conference presentation to the Australian College of Health Services Executives in Brisbane, Australia 3 years ago, and he received positive feedback from hospital administrators and facility managers who were planning to build new hospitals or renovate existing facilities.

A second course at Cornell, "Planning and Managing the Workplace: Evidence-Based Design and the Organizational Ecology of the Healthcare Environment," taught by Franklin Becker, PhD, Professor in Cornell's College of Human Ecology, uses the DVD and focuses on evidence-based design and designing hospitals around patients.

The course "gives students a good idea of how evidence-based design affects hospital planning and design, and the health and organizational benefits of using an evidence-based design approach," says Becker. "I think it does that effectively. It provides a basis for discussion of evidence-based design, and I use it before we do a site visit to our local hospital, so they have some basis of comparison to what they see there and also because it can help stimulate the questions they ask on the visit."

The DVD is also incorporated into a third course, "Innovation in Healthcare Research and Design," taught by Rana Zadeh, PhD, Assistant Professor in the College of Human Ecology.

Impact Case Study Identifier: 
AHRQ Product(s): Publications
Topics(s): Patient Safety
Geographic Location: New York
Implementer: Cornell University
Date: 11/22/2013
Page last reviewed November 2013