Designing Healthcare Spaces To Enhance Patient Experience
It’s mid-morning and you’re exhausted.
You have been up all night with a sick child, and you restlessly wait, for what seems like a century in the world's most uncomfortable chairs, with your whinny, sick child beside you.
You stare at the white walls with old healthcare posters pinned up, and think “how much longer can it be until the nurse calls us back, everyone else has already come and gone”?
From the time you walked into the doctors until the time you leave, you are steadily thinking about how you cannot wait to leave.
If you find yourself in this position, don’t worry you are not alone.
There are many people out there that completely avoid all healthcare facilities, just because of how poor the patient experience is.
Therefore, designing healthcare facilities with the patient experience in mind is crucial.
Although creating the best environment for not only the workers but also the patient, is a complex task, with good design it is do-able.
From the time the patient enters the building, they should not only see a beautiful office but also feel comfortable and welcomed too.
This starts at the reception or check in the desk.
While creating a beautiful reception area may not seem like the most ideal for a doctor’s office, there are many ways you can make this area stunning and practical.
Many offices require their patients to fill out some form of documentation or photocopy their license or insurance card.
So, first and foremost, having an area or surface that the patient can adequately complete these tasks are important.
Although not all doctors’ offices are made for patients who are contagious, many of them are.
Creating a barrier between the front desk staff and the patient is a great option to keep the front of the house staff healthy, and the germs out.
You can do this simply by adding a demountable glass wall and create a window to speak to the patients and to pass documents back and forth.
This option is not only keeping everyone from spreading infections, but it is also a beautiful addition to the design of your office.
After the initial check in the patient then proceeds to the waiting room or waiting area.
This is where the patients generally start to feel irritated, anxious and uncomfortable.
A comfortable waiting area is a necessity in a healthcare facility.
Opt for a sofa that you can take apart and reshape to fit whatever the office’s needs may be.
You can add side tables or purchase a couch that is not only adjustable but also one that has built in tablet arms or tables so that the patients can fill out any necessary paperwork.
If the facility is a general doctors office that deals with a lot of infections and sickness on a day to day basis, individual padded chairs as well as couches are also a good idea. This can cut down on the number of germs that are passed around when sharing the same couch. Having different options within the waiting room eases the patient's mind just a little.
Since many doctor’s offices are filled with kids, whether the child is sick or they must tag along with their parent, it is nice to incorporate their needs as well.
Children’s attention span is very short lived, so sitting still in an uncomfortable chair will not last long.
Before you know it, the child is in full on fit mode where the parent no longer has any control.
Could you really blame them, they have probably been sitting there over an hour?
Providing something that will take the children’s mind off being at the doctor's is having an area they can play.
Though not all offices are going to have enough room to have a playroom, a small area with a table and some coloring books will do just fine.
You could also opt for smaller chairs and tables, so the kids feel like they have a place they belong as well.
Once the nurse calls back the patient, they then head to a room to see the doctor. These rooms sometimes do not offer the most privacy to the patient.
Replacing normal rooms with a cubicle wall system that could be moved and added to as the office grows is ideal.
These systems come in many different color options and are easy to install.
You can opt for a locking door in case the patient has to change, as well as comfortable seating inside.
It is important that not only the patient has seating, but also the doctor, child, and the legal guardian or spouse.
For the convenience of the doctors, having some type of basic storage for frequently used items is a necessity.
This will eliminate the amount of time that the doctor must come in and out of the room.
The great thing about the cubicle wall system for the patient room is you can run your electrical through the data and raceways to power the computers or equipment that the doctor may use.
This can be a very helpful way to keep things organized and working properly.
Although not many people get to excited to go to the doctor’s, because chances are they are sick and that’s what is bringing them there, that does not mean the whole experience should be awful.
An office that feels inviting and helpful can create a better patient experience, which in the long run can create a returning patient.
Focusing the design on the patient rather than what is the cheapest could make a difference in the number of people that convert into returning patients.