Medical Facilities Design - Waiting Rooms
March 6, 2017

Medical Facilities Design - Waiting Rooms

Going to the clinic is a dreaded experience. Whether you're getting a diagnosis or treatment for yourself, or simply there to be by someone else's side, it's never a comfortable experience. At least the cold, drab waiting room is stocked with a healthy supply of three year old copies of Sports Illustrated and Time magazine to keep you occupied... Looks like we’ll all just bury our heads in our phones to pass the time instead.

While the world around us has fully adapted to modern conveniences, some clinics haven’t bothered to grow with the times. It’s understandable - their focus is on patient care, not necessarily design. But consider how this affects how patients perceive their practice. A dated and worn facility can negatively impact a patient’s comfort levels and it’s proven that interior design can influence people’s perception and well-being. Do you expect to receive the best care and latest treatment options at a dated facility, or at a new, modern office? The new facility, of course. Why is that? It might not necessarily offer the best care, but perception is a powerful thing. According to health care interior designer, Rosalyn Cama, "If designed properly, a healthcare interior environment can foster healing, efficient task-performance and productivity, effective actions, and safe behavior."

So, if your clinic still feels and looks like it belongs in the last millennium, these few simple tips can help upgrade your look to foster a better well-being:

First, the most important thing to consider when planning your interior design is the Patient. Pretend you are the patient for a second. Would you feel comfortable and relaxed if you visited your own clinic? Is your clinic an inviting place for someone seeking treatment? It is very important to address these questions because it will help you choose the best interior for your practice.

For example, take a look at the picture below:

Medical Facilities Design - Waiting Rooms

Pretty ordinary, right? Seems par for the course for most healthcare facilities. But how long would you be willing to sit comfortably in this environment?

Let’s examine this more closely:

1) Furniture

How often are you admitted right on time? Some patients wait well beyond their scheduled appointment time for various reasons. Sitting in an uncomfortable chair for an extended period can become aggravating and may slowly deteriorate the patient's perception of the service provided by the facility. Invest in comfortable furniture and choose a mix of chairs and sofas that you would feel comfortable sitting in. Remember that anyone in that waiting room is already sick, or injured, or concerned, and being uncomfortable will only heighten their stress levels.

2) Lighting/Color

As we can see in the picture above, the natural lighting is restricted by blinds. Shutting out natural lighting is only a reminder of the sick feeling, as if being purposely quarantined in a stuffy and dreary sick den. Expand your natural light resources - provide a positive boost with a dose of sunshine.

If your clinic doesn’t have a lot of natural light, you can mix things up with your choice of colors. When you look at this picture, considering the walls, carpet, and furniture, what decade do you think you're in? Is this decor inviting to you? Some light and warm colors throughout the waiting area can go a long way to create artificial light.

Here are three colors we can consider:

Green: This color represents energy, growth, and renewal. A fresh take on healing and regeneration. It draws a natural association to nature. From the color on the walls to vibrant plants around the waiting room, this color is essential to promoting good health.

Yellow: The color of happiness, yellow lightens and brightens any space with its cozy, inviting feeling. Soft yellows are best for the walls to create light in dark rooms.

Blue: This color represents a calming mood. Blue is a color of healing, fresh waters, and safety. Ever notice all those pictures of the beach in your doctor's office? That cool blue ocean feeling... Why not take that to the next level? Try cool, light blue colored walls or accents or maybe even install an aquarium!

3) Entertainment

Replace old magazines with thoughtful coffee table books. Or how about a travel book with amazing photography? A sick patient may even feel inspired to get well to visit those destinations! Promoting wellness mentally can trigger a placebo effect on physical health. 

Don't forget about smart phones. Our phones put the world in the palm of our hands, but their battery life doesn’t last forever. So, going back to those long wait times - where can a patient charge it while they wait? Surely, nobody wants to post up next to the reception desk with their charger fishing through the reception window. Plan for additional outlets around the waiting room for convenient patient access. Integrate power options into furniture for the best results.

Now, let's take a look at this facility below:

Medical Facilities Design - Waiting Rooms

Is this somewhere you would like to get treated? This example incorporates all the elements we discussed: it is warm, inviting and comfortable. Patients will appreciate your efforts to make his or her experience better, and doctors will appreciate the comforts that put the patient at ease. Empathy is at the root of the healing process - show patients they are in good hands from the second they walk in the door.

Related Topics: The Millennial Workspace, Design for Commercial Spaces, Convenient Power Outlets, Cable Management