Unless your patient was in extreme pain while visiting your office, he or she probably remembers what your space looks like. Is it a pleasant and comfortable wait area? Is the receptionist easily accessible? Does the office run efficiently and are the exam rooms clean and organized?
I love designing medical offices! They are important spaces and require attention to detail throughout. People are not necessarily happy to visit a doctor – either they are there for a routine check-up, which may be an annoying necessity, or they are in pain and uneasy. The process needs to be smooth and stress-free.
First Impressions Upon Entering a Medical Office:
You want to enter and immediately know where to check-in. You want a welcoming receptionist to engage with you to register and direct you to a seat. Distractions while waiting are offered, such as television, magazines and sometimes a coffee station. Often, an enticing children’s area is allocated to occupy them allowing the parent to relax.
Then a patient is called in to be assessed and maybe have vitals taken. Traffic flow is essential to an efficiently run medical office. Cleanliness and preparation of the exam rooms between patients is critical. Storage of all products must be accessible, as well as all medical equipment that will be needed. A cheerful exam room, no matter how small, may calm patients and make the visit more pleasant.
There are rest rooms, laboratory stations, storage closets and often back room functions in an adjacent space. Plus there are doctors’ offices and spaces for the medical assistants, nurses, clerical staff and office equipment, such as computers, copiers, printers, scanners and shredders! Your office files and systems will have been digitized as of 2014 per legal requirements. HIPPA is paramount – the regulations that keep your records private dictate many aspects of the office, including the direction of the employees’ computer screens! And the technology continues to advance.
The Interview Stage:
I interview everyone! I ask questions to identify what works for them and what needs improvement. Where might there be a bottle-neck in the traffic flow of people during the visit? Who needs to work in close proximity to whom? What is entailed in each function and how can it be optimized?
A project’s success is dependent on the employees’ participation and input: their buy-in. Often, the doctors are busy and not aware of many issues which could easily be resolved with a new layout or different furniture or equipment. People want to do their work and are happier and more productive when comfortable and properly equipped.
Most successful healthcare facility design projects are the result of a designer’s exploration of every task and function.
Office managers are the key to the operation. Additionally, nurses and receptionists have the knowledge and the understanding of a practice’s needs, its staff and its patients. If you ask them respectfully and indicate that your goal is to make their job more enjoyable, they will pour their hearts out – sometimes you learn more than you want to. But it’s all good – they tell it like it is; the good and the bad! And the maintenance people are gold. You can learn so much from the people who use the space and clean it.
Of course, evidence-based design was effective primarily in healthcare, offering insight as to length of stay in the hospital and the healing process. The timing is directly related to patient comfort, a private room and access to the outdoors.
In one instance, the valuable square footage was given to revenue producing functions leaving the staff lounge and conference area to an interior room. I was pleased to see their laughter as the art was hung in this room, understanding that even a picture conjuring up some wind through a beautiful window could add a sense of pleasure and amusement to an otherwise drab space.
Evidence-based design also confirms that employee satisfaction and retention is strongly based on their physical workplace.
Is it time to optimize your medical office with evidence-based design?
PVZ Design can help you achieve it.
Call me at 201 233-4636 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.