Hospitals are unaesthetic

An obvious but rarely discussed criticism of the health care sector is that hospitals are completely unaesthetic. The aesthetics of hospitals have mostly been neglected, because they don’t seem as important as the expertise of doctors, nurses, and staff, or medical technology.

A while back, Virginia Postrel wrote an article about how better aesthetics in hospitals can make for happier and healthier patients. Patients actually rate their medical care more highly when they stay in well decorated rooms, but hospitals aren’t competitive, and aren’t particularly responsive to trends in consumer demand.

There seems to be obvious demand for more comfortable environments in hospitals. People want comfort in hotel rooms, so why wouldn’t they want comfort when they’re most vulnerable? Perhaps if medical institutions were freer to experiment, they would compete on more dimensions, including aesthetics.

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