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Environmental Design: Making Patients Comfortable

Whether you treat small children or adults at your practice, one thing is certain across the entire patient spectrum: many feel nervous about visiting the doctor's office. Common fears are related to anxiety over medical procedures that may occur during a visit, like shots, surgeries, diagnoses, screenings, etc. Setting these things aside; many of patient fears can be attributed to the interior environment of a practice.

A doctor's visit is an experience that can leave a patient feeling vulnerable and disgruntled. Bright lights, stuffy waiting rooms, outdated reading materials, long waiting times, temperatures that are too hot or too cold, countless forms to fill out, uncomfortable seating, and other issues add to a patient's dissatisfaction and can often dissuade them from seeking further treatment.

If your practice has been around for a while and you haven't renovated since you opened your doors, it's probably time to think about an interior upgrade. Start by meeting with your staff members and sharing your individual insights and suggestions. A little brainstorming can go along way, just make sure you are all on the same page about costs and desired results. Ask yourself; do the desired changes coincide with our brand and the wants/needs of our patients? Does the design create an ambient space where patients are made to feel welcome and comfortable?

Throughout their visit, patients' fears should be subdued by a comfortable, inviting interior space that soothes their nerves, increases their satisfaction and builds confidence in your services. The overall design needs to be relaxed and homey with trace elements of professionalism. This means clean, accessible restrooms stocked with items specific to your patient base, soft interior lighting, freshly painted walls, access to a water cooler, clean floors, comfortable seating arrangements, and appropriate decorative accents. Play quiet ambient music, hang attractive but not distracting pictures on the wall, and provide updated reading materials that appeal to your demographic. Small investments such as these can reap rewards that are difficult to quantify as the effect is more subliminal in nature.

While many decorative decisions can be made by physicians and their staff, sometimes it helps to seek a professional. Hiring a professional interior decorator or someone with experience designing medical office spaces can take a load off of physician's already busy workload. Outside expertise can identify unnoticed issues and provide insight on what works best in certain types of spaces.