5 Medical Office Design Tips for Happy Patients, Engaged Staff & Successful Practices

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medical office design tipsWhen it comes to running a successful and patient-focused practice, all doctors regardless of their area of specialization would agree that the “5 C’s” they need to demonstrate every single day — and sometimes well into the night — are competence, communication, compassion, confidentiality and consistency.

However, medical office design is also part of the success formula, because for patients (and those accompanying them) it’s far more than a “space” within which to wait and receive treatment. It’s an intrinsic part of their care experience, and significantly influences — consciously and subconsciously — whether they feel safe and cared for, or if they feel like a “number” or “file.” 

Naturally, it goes without saying that the last thing that doctors (and their team) want is for patients to feel anything but that they’re a valued part of the practice family. To that end, here are five fundamental things about medical office design that every practice should embrace ad exhibit:

1. Patient-centric medical office design promotes positive human interactions.

In their research of therapist office design best practices — but with insights that are applicable across the entire health care landscape, including medical and dental — environmental psychologist Ann S. Devlin, PhD and urban planning researcher Jack L. Nasar, PhD identified that well-designed offices promote positive human interactions by expressing and encouraging personalization, orderliness, and “softness” as opposed to the conventional “harshness” of a clinical environment (e.g. overly-bright fluorescent lights, gleaming linoleum, general lack of comfort, etc.).

2. Mother Nature is a very good designer.

A seminal study published several decades ago in the journal Science — but still relied on today to support intelligent, patient-focused medical office design — found that hospital patients who were able to view nature outside their room window (e.g. trees, parks, sunsets, etc.) had shorter stays and took less painkillers, compared to patients without such a natural vista to gaze upon during their convalescence.

And even if installing windows is impractical or infeasible in some offices or buildings, practices can still reap the benefits of this proven, time-honored design strategy by choosing artwork and murals that showcase Mother Nature her glorious splendor.     

3. Patients take their directional cues from medical office design elements.

In traditional medical office design — just as in many hospitals — patients often have their (already intensified) anxiety levels ratcheted-up due to disorientation, because they don’t intuitively know where to go. As a result, some patients end up going down the wrong corridor, opening room after room to find the right one, or even bumping into other patients and staff (or come close to doing so). All of this leads to a patient experience that is memorable for all of the wrong reasons.

The good news is that the opposite is true: intelligent medical office design can (and should) make it intuitive for patients to move around the environment the right way, the first time. 

4. Color and mood are integrated. 

As we’ve explored on our blog previously (click here), wall, ceiling and floor color influence mood — which means that it impacts opinions and behavior, too. For example, blue and green shades are often ideal for medical office design, because they have a soothing, calming and natural feel. Alternatively, some pediatric practices have vibrant splashes of orange and yellow to engage young patients, and create a joyful, playful atmosphere.

5. Design and performance are integrated.

Although the main focus on medical office design should be on patients and their needs, it should also make the environment more productive and engaging for staff members; especially since health care is inherently stressful, and both burnout and turnover are constant challenges.

For example, staff can have a separate entrance (which is also good for patients who sometimes get nervous if they see doctors walking in and out of a practice, not realizing that this is often due to different shift start times, hospital visits, etc.). Or it may be effective to centralize sterilization stations in one area, and make it easier for staff to see if stock levels are low so they can proactively (and peacefully!) re-order. 

The Bottom Line

To learn more about how medical office design can help you foster happy patients, engaged staff and an even more successful practice, contact the Key Interiors team today. Your consultation with us is free.

For more information on signs that your office needs a renovation now instead of later, download our FREE eBook:


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