Q&A with Healthcare Industry Manager Dr. Mark Krejchi
Every patient has an experience. With hundreds of patterns available in Wilsonart’s design library and a broad collection of surfaces to address the challenges associated with the 3Ds of healthcare material selection—Disinfection, Durability, and Design—every patient’s experience can be exceptional. But don’t take our word for it! In part two of this four-part series, we asked our very own Healthcare Industry Manager, Dr. Mark Krejchi, to explain how designing with surfaces that support disinfection can have a profound impact on a patient’s experience.
What should a designer know about the impact Healthcare Acquired Infections (HAIs) have on the health system?
Dr. Krejchi: “HAIs are a significant risk to the health, safety, and welfare of the patients, their loved ones, and the staff occupying a built environment—especially one that is poorly designed or maintained. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes the impact of HAIs as “A significant cause of illness and death — and they can have devastating emotional, financial, and medical consequences … These infections lead to the loss of tens of thousands of lives and cost the U.S. healthcare system billions of dollars each year.” The Multistate Point-Prevalence Survey of Healthcare-associated Infections published in 2014 by the New England Journal of Medicine states that, “Approximately 1 in every 25 inpatients in U.S. acute care hospitals has an infection related to hospital care.” Most notably, research shows that when healthcare facilities, care teams, and individual doctors and nurses focus on prevention strategies, rates of some targeted HAIs can decrease by more than 70 percent.”
Why is it important for designers to incorporate surfaces that support disinfection?
Dr. Krejchi: “The mission of every healthcare organization is to provide patient care that’s effective, medically relevant, and operationally efficient; all in a comfortable environment, where the quality of the patient-provider relationship can set the tone for success.
Beyond the clinical aspect of the patient-provider encounter, environmental surfaces play a critical role within the healthcare built environment when it comes to generating a positive outcome. The aesthetics of a waiting area, the quality of the surfaces, and the feel of a space can endear or alienate the patient from the healthcare provider.
With challenges like ample time and resources to clean, disinfect, and maintain these surfaces, healthcare facilities often remain vulnerable to pathogenic activity that can result in increased rates of infection transmission— most commonly known as healthcare-associated infections (HAIs).”
What’s the biggest challenge a designer might face when trying to specify environmental surfaces?
Dr. Krejchi: “Modern healthcare organizations are characterized by highly competitive budgeting processes and there remains a perception that every dollar spent on creating and maintaining the built environment is a dollar not available for patient care. As a result, design specifications for the most effective materials for minimizing the build-up of bioburden on environmental surfaces are often sidelined during the budget cutting process.”
What is the best way to ensure the right surface, for the right application, at the right price is specified into a design?
Dr. Krejchi: “In order to shift the perception of value in favor of specifying the right surface, for the right application, at the right price, it is imperative for a designer to fully understand and actively promote materials that will withstand the rigors of the healthcare built environment. The very decision to include materials that can contribute to the reduction of bioburden is a proactive investment in patient care. It’s crucial that this is communicated during the design process.
A healthcare designer should be confident in knowing they can have a partner like Wilsonart who understands that Disinfection, Durability, and Design are the critical material attributes that must be addressed when successfully designing any space where healthcare services are provided. We can deliver designers a broad range of surfacing options that provide great flexibility while balancing beauty with function.”
What are the best surfaces to support disinfection?
Dr. Krejchi: “Start with the surface-of-all-trades—solid surface. It’s characterized by a non-porous and durable makeup with a high level of impact, stain, and moisture-resistance. It can be fabricated into seamless-like structures, refinished with ease, and repaired when damaged. These attributes allow this surface to retain its original aesthetic even in the face of the most aggressive disinfectant commonly used in the marketplace today [bleach]. For those interested in the most advanced Preventive | Biocidal Surface technology, EOScu provides an EPA-registered, self-sanitizing surface supported by peer-reviewed published trial results[i] that demonstrate its value in an operating clinical environment.”
Are there other surfaces a designer could incorporate that perform well within the healthcare built environment?
Dr. Krejchi: “Of course. While not all surface materials perform equally in the most rigorously disinfected environments, not all applications within the healthcare built environment require the highest level of disinfection performance. There are a variety of other surface materials that when fabricated and assembled properly can provide competitive performance often at a lower total cost of ownership.
Although I expect High Pressure Laminate (HPL) to remain a stable workhorse for both horizontal and vertical applications within the healthcare built environment, RE-COVER™, Compact, Chemsurf®, SOLICOR™, WXY and Quartz surface materials can all deliver excellent performance while broadening the design palette available to construct functionally effective and aesthetically pleasing surfaces that meet the cost constraints dictated by a budget.”
Want to know more about designing for a patient-centered experience? Read the first article.