When people enter into medical practices, they tend to have a lot of varying thoughts on their minds. For instance, a first-time mother might be worried about the fever their little one is running, while an older man could be preoccupied with the test results his doctor called him in to discuss in person. While sitting in the waiting room, they’re likely thinking about their health or that of their family, and not much else.

However, they might not realise that the decor of the office they’re sitting in can actually subconsciously play a big role in their well-being. Patients need comfortable seats, calming artwork, soothing paint or wallpaper, practical furniture, accessible television screens or other things to do so they are distracted but not agitated in order to remain relaxed, keep their blood pressure normalised and prepare for their appointments.

With this in mind, if you’re designing a new medical practice, or need to enhance your waiting room or examination space, you should pay attention to the medical design trends that are going to be important in 2020. Here’s what you should expect to see in the most up-to-date medical facilities going forward:

Embrace technology
Gone are the days of the late 1990s when medical practice waiting rooms contained little more than magazines and fish tanks for entertainment. As technology progresses, consumers and patients expect more, and when they don’t see it, they might start to worry that the practice itself is also outdated.

Modern medical practices – and not just waiting rooms, think exam rooms and other facilities – should include features like charging stations and smart boards. Smart boards are an interesting way to use artificial intelligence in the office and educate patients on their conditions, as well as other services offered by the medical professionals. They can also provide a beneficial way of reaching individuals who speak other languages and promote the services and doctors’ capabilities with our patients. Keeping kids entertained is key to keep your waiting rooms comfortable to all patients. Technology with smart tablets, touch screen and interactive TVs are amicable and easy ways to entertain kids and minimize their tantrums and disruption to other patrons while waiting.

Don’t forget about your employees
While, as the old say goes, the patient is king, in your medical practice, it’s important to remember that you need to make sure your facility is also comfortable and beneficial for everyone in the back office. You have to make sure your employees are happy and cared for to guard against turnover.

As a medical practice, one of your focuses in your office should be to ensure well-being. One major office trend in 2020 will be to incorporate healthy lifestyle habits in the office itself. For instance, the source said that many businesses are creating their own in-house yoga studios, massage rooms and even gaming areas. Easy ways to do this without having to add on to the office include investing in custom coffee machines, advanced music systems and revamping the break room to show your people that you care about their work-life balance. You can also outsource a lot of these services these days and organize weekly or fortnight activities for staff that break the routine and motivate their productivity. Good training facilities are essential to accommodate for these diverse activities as well as professional training and updates on healthcare compliance and patient case.

Practice what you preach
Show your patients that you care about their health at all points of their medical experience by proving it to them in the waiting and exam rooms. In 2020 and beyond, physically supportive spaces in healthcare spaces will become a much more common aspect.

For instance, the news source pointed out that some medical practices have “walk and talk” meetings outside, when possible, to take advantage of fresh air and physical activity – and this can increase engagement, creative thinking and honest conversation. You can also consider incorporating things like standing desks, ergonomic chairs that promote good posture, stationary bikes, treadmills, or other light workout equipment for those waiting. Bringing the outdoors into the space, has been scientifically recognized as a mechanism to heal in recovering processes, and minimise anxiety for waiting patients.

Sensor technology
Another thing our expert source suggested may become more common is using sensor technology in each medical practice chair, monitor and mouse as time goes on, starting in 2020. You may want to begin doing this, particularly when patients check-in (or for employees who opt in).

This can go a long way to providing warning signs if there are any illnesses or injuries that patients or employees should be aware of. Plus, this could also aid in cutting down some of the time otherwise spent taking vitals if incorporated into the check-in process. Doctors and nurses could make better use of this time, seeing other patients or having important conversations.

Sensors could also be worked into other aspects of the practice space, particularly the waiting room, to augment a virtual reality. For instance, our expert explained, gardens can be calming and reflective, so during overcast days or during evening appointments, a virtual wall with sensors could show calming images of flowers or outdoor gardens to promote a calming situation.

Different textures
If you are thinking of upgrading your practice or doing some remodeling, you should seriously consider working in different textures or finishes to keep up with the modern era. Many practices are showing their eco-friendly side, particularly in Australia, and this will hold strong in 2020.

Natural materials will continue to be heavily incorporated, particularly when breaking up open office plans. Bamboo, shrubbery, acoustic panels and other sustainable materials and textures are very on trend and can show patients that you have a commitment to the health of the planet as well.