Believe it or not, the physical design of your medical office space can impact the physician-patient relationship. From the moment your patient arrives at your practice, their experience has already begun. If your furnishings are placed in a strange, uncomfortable, or impractical manner, your patient’s level of satisfaction is already dropping. To optimize the physical space of your practice, here are a few things that you can do:
1. Build a Team Work Station That Improves Interactions
The ideal team work station should be quiet but still promote communication. Glass partitions, for instance, can be quite effective as they allow team members to see each other while conserving privacy and minimizing noise. This leads to teammates being more engaged with each other. Yet, they are still able to complete tasks quickly and efficiently. In addition, having sufficient exposure to daylight and being able to look out to see outside views can lift up everyone’s mood and make them feel more energized and enthusiastic to work. In short, by having a proper team work station, nurses and medical assistants can work more efficiently and collaboratively as a team.
By placing exam rooms close to the team’s work area, team members can move around between tasks more effectively, and exam room visibility is improved. This provides team members more opportunities to interact, thus resulting in more effective communication. Another way to enhance team interaction and promote communication is to turn a central exam room into a team space. This way, the team workstation will be located within visual and physical proximity to exam rooms, which means that team members will be able to tell which rooms are currently occupied and which ones are available for use. As this sense of awareness improves, they can better manage patient flow throughout the day.
Although a central workplace comes with many benefits, it’s very important that team members speak in quiet voices so that patients and other staff members are not disturbed. Some practices even develop an atmosphere that is similar to a library to maintain patient privacy and a peaceful work environment.
2. Arrange Furnishings to Promote Patient Engagement
Everything regarding the furnishings needs to be taken into account, including the arrangement, shapes, and types of essential furniture such as desks, examination tables, and chairs. All of these have to be arranged and designed in a way that will promote productive interaction and allow proper eye contact between the patients and the examiners. For example, the patient should be able to move to a chair to speak with the physician once the procedure on the examination bed is over. If the patient has to be on the examination bed throughout the whole appointment, it can ruin their entire visit experience. Patients are more likely to take in all the information and be content with their visit when they’re able to sit at eye-level with their physician and make eye contact with them. If there is little-to-no eye-contact, the patient can feel uncomfortable.
3. Add Positive Distractions to Ease Patients’ Tension
As your patients take in the general surroundings of your practice, they can gauge the quality of care that they will receive. Patients are already anxious enough while they wait in a waiting room. Being in a bad environment can amplify that negative feeling. Therefore, you should make sure to add some positive features, such as window views of the outside garden, to lift the patients’ moods. Television is also a great distraction that can draw away the patients’ attention while they’re waiting. This, in turn, can alleviate their stress and improve their mood.
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