Using Design Details to Improve Patient Experience
In life, it’s often the little details that we appreciate the most; the little details make the patient experience.
As an interior designer who has focused my entire career in the healthcare industry, I’ve become acutely aware of how patient-centered environments tell a story and provide evidence of that story to customers, day-in and day-out. By incorporating the latest trends into the design, it creates the intended experience – typically presenting itself in the little details that patients remember.
It all starts with the greeting experience. Healthcare providers are taking cues from the hospitality and retail markets. Five star hotels call every guest by name, anticipating their arrival and personalizing the guest experience. Employees are trained to focus on the client and it shows with a smile and warm hello as you enter their properties. The opportunity to provide a warm friendly greeting to patients and visitors sets the tone for the entire experience. Leveraging design, make registration and waiting areas a focal point upon arrival, allowing clients to focus on their patients and visitors immediately. The greeting experience can instill an enormous amount of loyalty. The interiors must be warm and inviting and allow more casual interactions. The use of self-check-in kiosks are also becoming more common to appeal to tech-savvy consumers.
Recently, waiting areas are becoming referred to as “living rooms.” To align with that expectation, they should come with all the comforts of home. These spaces must be inviting, user-friendly, and convenient to visitors. From areas of technology such as, free Wi-Fi or charging stations for mobile devices, to comfortable residential type lounge chairs, the furnishings should provide variety. With an aging population, some seating should include arms and have a seat height of 19 inches for elderly accessibility. Natural palettes that are inspired by the outdoors with elements of organic textures or patterns are a welcomed sight in the high tech world we live in today. All of these items improve the patient experience.
Branding is another big trend. Taken from the corporate world, branding and environmental graphics are now prominent in healthcare. Promotion of your brand and your tie to the community around you can be shown through digital imaging, which now can be printed on virtually any substrate. Showcasing your pride and involvement in local efforts promotes stewardship and recognition of community improvements. Creating multi-functional spaces where community events can occur, allows occupants to experience the space in a positive environment. For instance, a coffee bar can also be used to teach healthy cooking classes—which helps promote wellness and can create a VIP experience.
As healthcare shifts to a value-based service model, where outcomes and satisfaction drive reimbursements, we must leverage the front-of-the-house and provide engaging spaces that add value. The details in the design can set the tone for the entire patient experience.
Senior Interior Designer, Healthcare
Kris is a senior interior designer in M+A's healthcare studio. When she's not developing interior spaces, Kris can be found watching Tommy Boy or planning her next trip to Sanibel Island, Florida.