New research shows that specific architecture and design features—such as extra large private hospital rooms with plenty of natural light and artwork—can improve patient care and in the long run reduce health care expenses. While these features may seem like unaffordable luxuries, they are elements of the “Fable hospital,” an ideal health care facility as conceived and analyzed by leaders in health care and design in a set of articles in the Hastings Center Report.

The report examines the state of the evidence for these design features, looks at two hospitals that incorporated some of these innovations into their hospital design, and considers how design fits into the moral mission of health care.

According to the researchers, specific design innovations in hospital design can yield enormous benefits, such as reducing health-care related infections in patients and occupational injuries in nurses, as well as cutting energy use. These benefits, in turn, reduce costs, leading to a return on investment within 3 years.

Among the positive outcomes of incorporating some of these design features at Dublin Methodist Hospital in Ohio were a low-rate of health care-acquired infections and patients falls with injury. At Sacred Heart Medical Center in Oregon, these design elements helped reduce lengths of stay and costs of discharge, according to hospital officials.

Source: The Hastings Center