Stanford Medicine Newsletter Updates For the Local Community


Designed with patients in mind

New hospital plans highlight individual needs

A rendering of a patient room in the proposed Stanford Hospital depicts the amount of space set aside for friends and family, a factor that can play an important role in patient healing.


Patients will have private rooms that integrate the use of personal technology; they will be able to undergo multidisciplinary procedures at one time and in one place; and their families will be able to consult with doctors over video monitors.

These are just some of the features envisioned in the proposed Stanford Hospital building that accentuate patient-centered care, an ascendant philosophy of health care that focuses on patients’ personal preferences, values and family dynamics as opposed to simply their diseases. It acknowledges the fundamental importance of patient and family participation in health care.

The hospital will be rebuilt to meet seismic safety standards and capacity needs as part of the Stanford University Medical Center Renewal Project. The estimated $3.5 billion initiative also will modernize and expand Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, replace outdated Stanford University School of Medicine laboratories and renovate Hoover Pavilion, the original Palo Alto Hospital.

The current hospital building was constructed more than a half-century ago, a time when physician convenience and preferences were considered paramount. Today those outdated design priorities interfere with the ability of patients and their families to fully participate in the healing process, said George R. Tingwald, MD, a licensed architect and director of medical planning for the hospital renewal project.

Research has shown that when patients are comfortable and have relatives or friends involved with their care, clinical outcomes tend to improve, Tingwald said.

The following are several examples of how patient-centered care will be embodied in the new hospital building:

Private rooms

All 368 patient rooms completed during the first phase of the new building will be private. In addition to cutting down on the risk of infection and providing a more stress-free atmosphere for patients, private rooms support a larger role for families.

Families know more than nurses and doctors about the habits and personalities of their hospitalized kin. They can pick up on symptoms and needs that hospital caregivers might miss. Accommodating families in patient rooms—24 hours a day, seven days a week, even in intensive care unit rooms—is a first step in this process.


Today physicians generally meet with family members in person to discuss a patient’s condition, sometimes in a waiting room or corridor. But from the family’s perspective, it can mean feeling uncomfortable because of the lack of privacy of the encounter, feeling rushed to ask questions and misinterpreting or forgetting what was said.

In the new hospital, patients’ families and friends will have the option of speaking to doctors on a closed-circuit video monitoring system integrated into the building. Studies show that families are comfortable with this type of communication, and many prefer it to talking with doctors in person. One big advantage is that these remote interactions can be recorded and reviewed later.

Information technology

A system of tracking who goes in and out of patients’ rooms is also envisioned for the new hospital. When hospital staff members enter a patient’s room, their identification badges would send their name and information about their role to the room’s flat-screen monitor. Amid the hustle and bustle of a hospital, this helps orient patients and their families to the type of care they are receiving and who is involved. It also would become part of the overall building security.

Patient rooms and waiting areas will be outfitted with wireless Internet access to allow families and patients to communicate with relatives and friends, as well as take care of other business, while in the hospital. “Waiting rooms are now places where families work; they don’t just wait,” Tingwald said.

Interventional platform

Traditional operating suites will largely be replaced by an “interventional platform” on the second floor. These 28 rooms will be outfitted to handle a variety of procedures, including surgeries, catheterizations and imaging scans—often in the same “hybrid” room—eliminating the need for separate prep and recovery areas for each type of procedure. Patients will have an easier time finding their way to where their procedure will take place since all types will be in one hospital location.

Specialists who use this platform will benefit from working closely with their peers from other departments. They will have more opportunity to collaborate on ways to improve treatment strategies for patients undergoing multidisciplinary care or other protocols.

“A lot of times, staff members from these various departments don’t interact,” Tingwald said. “This is a cultural shift for doctors. There are things about it that are tough from their perspective. But from a patient’s standpoint, it’s simple and straightforward.”

For more information and updates on the Medical Center Renewal Project, visit the project’s website,

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