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The appearance of your hospital facilities is a big part of any potential client's first impressions. If your facility seems cramped, dark, unwelcoming or disorganized, a one-time visitor will likely think just that — instead of becoming a loyal patient. Renovations can be the best way to compete with big branch hospitals that thrive (in large part) to their brand recognition, but it can all seem overwhelming.

When you're looking at possible renovations for a hospital, you have a lot on your mind. You not only must make sure your facility continues to adhere to all regulations, but you also have to ensure that your facility's layout is set up in a way that promotes efficiency and ease of use, both for your staff and patients.

Renovations a Worthy Investment

In order to stay on budget for any renovation while also getting the most return on investment, it's important to understand the impact various renovations can have on your hospital's efficiency, safety and appeal. According to Deloitte, hospitals whose patients self-report their experience as "excellent" had a net margin of 4.7 percent, compared to the national average of just 1.8 percent for hospitals with "low" ratings. Pick your renovations in the right order, and they just may pay for themselves.

Show Off Your Capabilities

If you're a smaller hospital, you won't be able to change everything in one shot. So you should focus on the things that will have the largest impact. For example, one common problem you may battle revolves around the misconception that a smaller hospital somehow has fewer capabilities than its larger counterparts. With the popularity of urgent care centers, it's not uncommon for patients to write off smaller hospital facilities after incorrectly assuming that they won't have the right equipment to diagnose and treat them.

In this case, a great way to increase your patient roster could be as simple as a reorganization of your rooms. By doing something as simple as moving imaging facilities and other state-of-the-art equipment near the entrance, patients will likely be able to see and understand more clearly the breadth of possibilities at your hospital. This can be considered the medical industry's version of "show, don't tell," and it's a trick that's increasingly popular — because it works, according to Healthcare Design.

Upgrade Your Lighting

Upgrading your lighting to LED bulbs is another inexpensive renovation that can make a big difference — both in your hospital facilities costs and your patient experience. LED bulbs can cut energy use by more than 80 percent, according to Energy.gov. For a hospital that offers overnight stays, that amount of electrical savings can make a big difference. In fact, 43 percent of most medical facilities' electrical costs go to lighting, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Not only can lighting affect patients' moods as well as the perception of cleanliness and modernity of your office, great lighting can help keep your overnight patients' circadian rhythm on track — which, according to Contract, means they could even heal faster.

Encourage Patient Interaction

By fixing other small, but noticeable, elements of your hospital — such as the furniture layout or help desk locations — you may be able to create a more welcoming and relaxing environment for your patients. When you consider upgrades and layout changes, keep in mind some basics:

  • Barriers between people speaking will stifle open communication
  • Lack of privacy can cause patients to hold back information or feel exposed
  • Offer distractions in waiting areas to reduce stress and frustration levels.
  • Nobody wants to be in the way — cultivate space that's welcoming to the patient and family members

Can't afford a total furniture overhaul? Healthcare Design suggests starting with waiting areas for immediate impact, especially if you're still battling long wait times. Create a variety of seating areas that cater to preferences such as sitting in privacy, sitting with a family group, having a TV for distraction, an area for children and an area that is adults only.

Upgrading your small hospital over time should always be a priority, but that doesn't mean you need a huge budget to see an improvement in your KPIs. Sometimes by making the small things better and focusing on improvements to service, you can overhaul how your patients perceive their experience and help make sure they keep coming back.

To learn more contact shibani.faehnle@key.com or visit key.com/healthcare.