5 Ideas to Make Your Medical Practice More Inviting

Posted in Medical Construction.

Whether you are building a new medical office or upgrading existing facilities, it is important to take time to assess how your patients feel about the space and to determine ways in which it can be made more inviting to more people. This is especially true as medical systems become more focused on measuring patient experience through surveys and assessments which can then be tied to other performance metrics.

We are offering five areas to consider for upgrades or changes to make your medical practice more inviting.

Allow for breathing room

Few things make people as uncomfortable as being in tight or restrictive spaces. To make your practice more inviting, be sure to size exam rooms to allow for free movement by not only physicians and staff, but for patients and their families as well. It is also important to not lose sight of the need to support those in wheelchairs or with other mobility limitations who may need to maneuver walkers or canes to get around. Larger exam rooms with ample space around exam tables and counters will help to reduce patient tension.

This need for breathing room extends beyond the exams rooms and also applies to hallways and waiting areas. The ability to walk in hallways alongside a family member or caregiver may help calm the nerves of patients who are on edge. These hallways also need to be large enough to allow for traffic moving in the opposite direction and for brief discussions among staff.

Whenever possible, the main reception and waiting areas should be large enough to allow for patients to sit with family members and converse without feeling like their conversations are being overheard or are intruding upon other patients. Greater physical distancing between patients has also proven to be important throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. This physical spacing is just as relevant when it is time to manage and minimize the transmission of seasonal flus. 

Let the light in

Natural light creates a comfortable ambiance and provides a warmth to spaces. Incorporating natural light helps to bring the outside indoors, which has a soothing effect on patients and staff. Large windows in common areas like reception and waiting rooms also help to make spaces feel larger and more expansive, reducing the sensation of crowding with can make many people uncomfortable. Bringing in natural light also lets you easily incorporate plants as part of the décor, further enhancing the relaxing nature of the space.

For interior rooms, don’t forget about the possibility of adding natural light from above. The inclusion of skylights or tubular daylighting devices (also known as TDDs, sun tubes, or solar tubes) provide options to up the lighting quality regardless of where the room is located. While skylights look very much like traditional windows, from within a room, TDDs look very much like traditional lighting fixtures. Some even offer options that incorporate LED lights so that on cloudy days or after the sun sets, the TDDs still provide the lighting for your space. Explore what options are available for your office to increase the amount of natural light your patients can enjoy.  

Choose chairs over couches

While big comfy couches sound nice in the abstract, Americans value their space and privacy. Outfitting the main reception and waiting areas with chairs that are both comfortable and easily cleaned provides patients with a secure space. Furnishing with chairs also provides a great deal of flexibility, allowing families to cluster seats together while also maintaining enough distance between groups to maintain privacy. The Covid-19 pandemic served as a reminder of the importance of building flexibility into practice spaces.

The chairs you choose do need to be comfortable and need to accommodate a variety of body types. Be sure to include some oversize pieces to make sure that everyone has the chance to find seating. Upholstered seating can also play a large role in helping to manage the audio environment of your practice.

Some practices are going beyond standard seating and incorporating bar height counters with stools around the perimeter of the waiting area. This provides patients with the ability to self isolate, by facing a wall or window rather than being oriented toward the center of the room, creatig a greater sense of privacy. Additionally, the counter gives patients a work area or just someplace to rest their elbows or devices while they wait.

Make smart technology choices

Practices are finding ways to incorporate technology not only to strengthen patient care, but also to improve the patient experience. For example, the use of touch screen devices for self check-in and medical records review not only reduces the paperwork burden on staff, but gives patients a simple and familiar interface to work with.

While TVs in waiting areas have become almost standard, the rise in smartphone usage reduces the need for them. Increasingly patients prefer to have the ability to consume the media of their choice while they wait, rather than having their attention diverted by the news or announcements on a central screen. Providing your patients with a public wifi network gives them a much appreciated service and can help them to stay relaxed while they wait. Other amenities like conveniently located and accessible power outlets and charging stations also improve the experience of patients or family members that may be waiting during a procedure.

Don’t forget to consider sound

Once we are past the point of childhood where we enjoy shouting and hearing our own voice come back to us, hollow, echoey spaces are not generally places we want to linger in. So while we want visually open spaces, we also want to be in places where sound is contained, and it is somehow neither too quiet, not too loud. When designing your medical practice, the audio environment may not be the first thing you consider, but it is definitely something to keep in mind when trying to create a more inviting space for patients.

The choices that are made for furnishings, flooring, wallcoverings, and art can all have a significant impact on how the space sounds. Durable and attractive carpet tiles provide for outstanding sound management in waiting rooms and reception areas. For other areas in medical facilities, engineered laminate flooring is a great choice since it is designed to be easy to clean, durable and sound dampening.  Upholstered furnishings and textile art are other options to help maintain the audio tranquility of your office and make it more inviting.

Upgrading or changing any of these areas can put you on the path to building a more inviting medical office. Determining the best option for your practice can start by working with the professionals at Real Services to assess your needs and help to sketch out the possibilities for your space. Contact us today to get started.