Ways to help lessen the stress that can come with cancer treatments.
Even with access to the most promising treatment options, cancer patients can find the process grueling. Here are some ways to help lessen the stress that can come with cancer treatments.
“The first appointment in a cancer center is overwhelming, and the first impression can help to ease the initial anxiety. We designed a treatment area specifically for blood cancer patients with the idea of bringing all necessary services under one roof in an inviting and comfortable environment, starting right at the entrance. In a space filled with natural light, patients and family are immediately greeted by two receptionists who escort them to treatment or clinic, especially if newly diagnosed and unfamiliar with the area. Following the initial appointment, patients can bypass reception and go directly to their specific treatment room without wait.”
-Chuck Bogosta, MBA, president, UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, Pittsburgh.
At the University of Rochester’s Wilmot Cancer Institute, small work stations have been placed outside each patient room.
“By using a unit model that decentralizes the nurses’ station on our cancer units, it really puts the nurse closer to the patient. In addition, it has helped to improve our call light responsiveness and noise scores. Patients and families draw comfort knowing that a caregiver is in close proximity to them.”
-Dwight Hettler, MS, RN, director of nursing, University of Rochester’s Wilmot Cancer Institute, Rochester, New York
Exam rooms that have large monitors to show imaging results and have health information on-screen for both doctor and patient to see at the same time is ideal. It is nice to be able to show lab trends and look at reports with a better level of transparency. Patients and parents of pediatric patients want to be partners in healthcare decisions that are being made, and this technology allows for a more transparent conversation together and the ability to compare MRIs and CTs from past visits.
-Beth Kurt, MD, section chief for pediatric hematology and oncology, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, Grand Rapids, Michigan
“Windows are paramount. I have sat with many patients and their families in the cancer center bays and while they receive chemo they are able to look out from the enormous windows that show every season in full view. Already feeling closed in at a place they don’t want to be. The windows open up the world, reminding them life is all around them.”
-Vickie Peyton, MSW, oncology social worker, Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Cancer Center, DeKalb, Illinois
The Inova Schar Cancer Institute, scheduled to open next spring in Northern Virginia, will feature a combination of private infusion rooms and inviting spaces that resemble comfortable living rooms.
“We put the infusion space on the top floor where all cancer patients experience natural light and see sweeping vistas of wooded grounds, rather than being in a dark, windowless basement. Patient rooms are designed so that ‘doctors walk, patients don’t.’ All care components are in one facility (oncologist, surgeon, radiation oncologist, genetic counselor, nurse navigator, etc.) to bring their services to the patient. Natural elements such as stone and wood been included in the design.”
-John Deeken, MD, chief medical officer, Inova Schar Cancer Institute, Falls Church, Virginia
“Department workflow must be optimized with the clinical workflow, using national best practices for staff efficiency and effectiveness. Patient experience and service design will also drive an ideal department design. This includes decluttered equipment areas, streamlined work spaces, and storage that is organized and hides away equipment which can cause patients higher anxiety. It’s best to include clinical staff as well as patients in the design review process to benefit from their experiences and ideas. An engaged and happy staff leads to an enhanced patient experience and higher patient satisfaction.”
-Giang Vu, design consulting principal, Philips Healthcare Transformation Services, Cambridge, Massachusetts
At ProCure Proton Therapy Center in Somerset, New Jersey, there are no TVs in the lobby.
“The lobby is designed to be a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere for patients to enhance their treatment experience with us. This atmosphere also helps foster interaction with the patients so they tend to form a support system with other patients. Many come in as strangers and leave as friends.”
-Lori Felicetta, director of human Resources and administration, ProCure Proton Therapy Center, Somerset, New Jersey
“Our open-air deck has comfortable seating and tables and incorporates many varieties of flowers and plants while overlooking a city view. We added a putting green, which is frequently used by many patients and even staff members looking to relax for a few minutes. During treatment, we also incorporate our Integrative Oncology and Wellness Program with specially trained oncology nurses who come to the patient during treatment and offer chair massage, aromatherapy, and meditation services.”
“Instead of blank walls, have artwork placed in appropriate places throughout the office. Colorful artwork makes the patient experience uplifting and positive. Each work can have the title of the work, brief description, and the artist information, making the patients more engaged with the art. Conversation about the artwork in the beginning makes patients relaxed for the rest of the visit with the doctor.”
-Adil Akhtar, chief, Division of Palliative & End of Life Care, Michigan Health Professionals, and chief of clinical operations, Karmanos-McLaren Oakland Cancer Center, Michigan
“Listening to what consumers value, in this case cancer patients and their families, is vital and relevant across the board, from medical care to hospital design. Patients offer feedback and recommendations when it comes to easy navigation, signage, lighting, interior colors, artwork, the feel of exam chairs, and much more. Infusion serves as a clear illustration of a patient-driven layout, with spacious bays that comfortably seat both patients and caregivers; private room options; television; and even outdoor seating.”
-Michael Schriks, vice president of operations, Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), Atlanta
“A triangle configuration puts [physicians], the patient, and the computer at three corners. In this scenario a physician will sit next to the patient and have their iPad or tablet in front of them and the patient, so both can easily see the screen … Close proximity to the patient without technology acting as a barrier allows CTCA physicians to identify non-verbal cues, observe physical ailments or changes while a patient describes their symptoms or experience, and eye contact with the patient reaffirms for the patient that their physician is focused on their sole well-being during the appointment and not distracted by data entry.”
-Julian Schink, MD, chief, Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), Chicago, division of gynecologic oncology, Zion, Illinois
“One oft-overlooked aspect is how cancer patients feel they lose control of their lives with so much driven by doctor’s appointments and treatment schedules. Cancer care centers can help give some feeling of control back to patients by offering complimentary wellness and survivorship programs with access to patient navigators, educators, social workers, and dieticians.”
-Natalie Petzoldt, AIA, EDAC, CannonDesign’s St. Louis health market leader, St. Louis.
“A focus on interior aesthetics and hospitality can make a big different in the patient experience, in contrast to a healthcare experience that feels sterile, scary, and may smell. Its inpatient room [may have] features like warm woods, windows, seating areas, and pull-out beds for caregivers; reducing anxiety with cabinets that easily hide medical equipment; and a dining room with a Hope Table for patients and families who want to socialize; and quiet rooms for rest and peace.”