While versatility is a plus in almost any commercial setting, few areas call for a wider range of furnishings, combined with some very specialized pieces, than the medical field. From patient and visitor waiting areas to examination and hospital rooms, there’s a huge variety of options to improve the patient experience.
If you’re of a certain age, you might remember medical facilities that were drab and institutional in décor. Now you’ll see spaces with furnishings that might look right at home in an upscale hotel, with prominent colors and sleek designs. Again, that’s not unique to health care, but furniture in a wellness setting often has additional roles to play.
With the exception of maternity, few people visit medical facilities by choice. Stress levels can be high for patients and visitors alike, and the furnishings and décor should support a holistic sense of calm and wellbeing. You’ll see that trend in action from single-doctor practices to hospital waiting areas to senior living facilities.
Like furniture in other waiting spaces, you’re more and more likely to find chairs in waiting areas equipped with power outlets and/or USB ports, or armrests that convert to tabletops to assist with getting work done while waiting. As in an office setting, flexibility is desirable. For example, a well-designed waiting area might have pods of seating to accommodate families as well as individual areas to allow more privacy.
Beyond design that supports the user in difficult times, furnishings in a medical setting often have very specific technical requirements in terms of clinical performance. Some lines come with specialty fabrics that meet Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) protocols, reducing the spread of germs. Others may have tamper-proof seams to control not only bacteria, but the concealment of contraband smuggled into hospital settings.
The furnishings themselves can fill a variety of specialty roles, from recliners designed for patient comfort to height-adjustable tables that accommodate wheelchair-bound users. In a delivery suite, a compact loveseat might convert to a bed, allowing overnight comfort for a waiting partner.
In the end, patient-centered design promotes not only comfort but accessibility and dignity through experiences that are often difficult. That can be critical to better outcomes for patients, and to better experiences for those sharing the journey with them.
Questions about how to emphasize patient experience? Contact Douron.