Architecture & Design, Health Care, and Manufacturing

Furniture maker partners with university on design

June 19, 2014
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Furniture maker partners with university on design
Herman Miller Healthcare makes office furniture for a range of health care applications. Photo via fb.com

An office furniture maker is partnering with a university to research the design of collaborative team spaces in health care.

The Academy of Architecture for Health Foundation, which is part of the American Institute of Architects, has announced Herman Miller Healthcare and Georgia Tech as the recipients of the foundation’s 2014 annual research grant.

Herman Miller and Georgia Tech were selected for their research proposal, “Designing Team Spaces to Support Collaboration and Communication in Patient Centered Medical Homes.”

Herman Miller Healthcare and the furniture maker’s subsidiaries, Nemschoff and Geiger, make a variety of products for the health care industry.

The Academy of Architecture for Health Foundation furthers “excellence in health care architecture” by supporting education and research programs.

Multi-disciplinary care

Herman Miller said health care is moving toward models of collaborative, multi-disciplinary care in outpatient settings, and many clinics are creating open team rooms intended to support care coordination.

At the same time, research shows that open workspaces can actually decrease communication, if not properly designed and suited for the tasks, culture and technology of an organization.

The research project will focus on “exploring the design of team spaces to support collaboration” in patient-centered medical homes for outpatient care, said Ross Westlake, national accounts manager, Herman Miller, and a researcher on the project.

Jennifer DuBose, Georgia Tech lead researcher and SimTigrate Design Lab associate director, said the primary research question their efforts will focus on is, “What are the critical factors, care flow and considerations affecting communication, collaboration and staff satisfaction that should be considered when designing and configuring a clinical team space, such as those required to support PCMH clinics?”

Full-scale mockup

The research project will be comprised of multiple components: a review of existing literature; focusing on how to accommodate both a range of interaction tasks and intense individual work in an open team room, as well as outpatient process models; documentation of case studies based on analysis of plans and phone interviews; development of metrics and criteria to help design teams assess the likely success of designs, using tools such as space syntax and process modeling; and development of a full-scale mockup in the Georgia Tech SimTigrate Design Lab, using a proposed process model to inform the design.

Principles of design

Outcomes of the research will include the creation of practical principles for designers and clients and the creation of a presentation to debut at Healthcare Design 2015.

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