Smarter interior design makes for safer and more efficient homes, workplaces, and healthcare facilities.
When classes begin this fall at UNLV, it will be the first university in North America to offer a master’s program that focuses on those areas through the study of “evidence-based design.”
The master’s program in healthcare interior design — part of the School of Architecture — welcomes its first students this term. Partnering with UNLV in the effort is the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.
Headed by interior architecture Professor Attila Lawrence, the cross-disciplinary program allows students to learn from Cleveland Clinic specialists in neurology, psychiatry, and neuropsychology.
“Increasingly, there is more demand on what we expect in the environment in terms of how it is going to perform for us,” Lawrence told KNPR's State of Nevada.
He said it is not just about how a healthcare facility is laid out but also how a home is designed. Things that can impact the "health" of a space include the acoustical environment, the lighting, the room's temperature and even the air.
Lawrence said those factors along with a long list of others can impact how comfortable a person is. If someone is more comfortable, they'll feel better both mentally and physically.
He said it is particularly important when it comes to elderly people and how they communicate. For instance, if the acoustics of a space are lacking, an elderly person may not be able to hear during a conversation. That elderly person is then more likely to pull back from that conversation, which ultimately impacts his or her socialization.
For Dr. Dylan Wint with the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, it was the insight from his older patients that led him to focus on the impact of environment on health.
“There is a lot more to do for our patients outside of the office that we are just not trained to do,” he said.
For instance, he said patients would move into a new senior community or home and find the doors couldn't accommodate a wheelchair or it had bathtubs that were hard to step into.
"That prompted me to try and think more about what we could do to help our patients in their homes,” he said.
Wint said it is a fairly new consideration for most doctors but those he's talked to have been receptive to the idea.
Doug Geinzer, CEO of healthcare industry advocacy group Las Vegas Heals, said the importance the Affordable Care Act puts on patient satisfaction is helping drive new thinking. Today healthcare professionals from hospital administrators to doctors must pay more attention to how a patient rates their care and the outcome of that care.
"So now days, when someone exits or gets discharged from a hospital they get delivered and HCAP survey, which is basically a patient satisfaction survey," he said, "The hospitals are now being reimbursed to that HCAP survey."
Attila Lawrence, head of the healthcare interior design program, UNLV; Doug Geinzer, CEO, Las Vegas Heals; Dr. Dylan Wint, Cleveland Clinc Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health
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