The consulting room is arguably the most vital space in any clinic. It is where the doctor discusses a patient’s healthcare issues and personal treatment history. Medical specialists may have to share bad news, or have difficult conversations that upset or anger their patients. That’s why it’s important the consultation room is fitted out with the patient experience in mind. A welcoming and inclusive environment will reduce anxiety and encourage patients to return to your business – designs modelled on efficiency alone will have the opposite effect.
Why is patient satisfaction important in doctor consulting room design?
Ultimately healthcare clinics are not too different from any other retail business. Patrons have a choice of many in the market, and will remain loyal to a medical operator that’s within their budget, has the right primary care services and offers a good customer experience. Brookings Institution research shows patients increasingly rely on online customer reviews rather than businesses they have visited in the past when choosing a medical provider. That means specialist clinics need to base their facility design on improving patient satisfaction.
But what makes up a satisfying patient experience?
One main factor is how patients feel during consultations. Patients want to feel as comfortable and relaxed as possible when discussing medical issues with a specialist, so patient-centric design needs to meet these expectations. Privacy is also an important element of specialist practice design.
Finally, nowadays patients want to be more engaged with their treatment process than ever before. The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare says partnering with patients in their own care is the modern gold-standard for medical treatment. Design elements that meet this demand are therefore essential when fitting out a consulting room.
Patient satisfaction is key to a clinic’s success – a lot of that positive or negative experience is built in the consulting room.
Three ways to make your consulting room more patient-centric
There are several specific design tips that can make your specialist consultation area more patient-centric.
The first tip is to make your consulting room more open and inviting. Colour, light levels and room layout can all play a role in raising or lowering anxiety. While consulting rooms typically need minimal floor space to accommodate a single patient and doctor, if this room is too small, it could make patients feel claustrophobic. Dark colours and minimal natural light will further ‘shrink’ the room and make the space feel intimidating.
Minimising your clinic footprint is important for cost saving, but ensure your consulting rooms are still big enough to accommodate more than two people (should patients want friends or family’s support). Also consider a lighter colour palette when fitting out your consultation rooms, and allow ample natural light in the space from large windows.
Once you have introduced a more welcoming atmosphere to your consultation room, the second factor you have to consider is how you can maximise patient privacy. Open-plan clinic designs and dividable multi-function rooms are all the rage in modern healthcare design. However, your consulting rooms should stand apart from this trend, to increase patient seclusion.
With this in mind, consider arranging consulting rooms around the edges of your clinic – rooms in the centre your facility can flow through to one another, while your private spaces are clearly delineated. This ensures patients and doctors aren’t interrupted during consultations.
A patient consultation room should balance open, well-lit space with privacy.
The final factor to consider in making your consulting room more patient-centric is sharing access to patients’ medical files. Modern patients want to be in control of their medical information and actively involved in determining an appropriate course of treatment. That’s not to say patients want to co-doctor their ailments – individuals still rely on the medical expertise of specialist practitioners. Many are simply more comfortable when their private medical information is to-hand and within their control during a consultation.
To this end, consulting rooms should be designed to give patients better access to this information. Integrated technology can be a great enabler. Using digital tablets or television devices, doctors can share medical information and diagrams, allowing patients to better visual a course of treatment or recovery strategy. This engagement will help put patients at ease and ensure they are satisfied with how they are being looked after.
Space for Health’s specialist clinic design services
Space for Health’s innovative fit out process, while sticking to a tried and tested five-step framework, is still adaptable to suit any client’s design needs. We have undertaken a range of healthcare design projects over our 25 years serving the NSW medical sector, working with physiotherapists, dermatologists, specialised surgeons and more. We understand that every project is different and requires adaptability to ensure the practice’s technical, ergonomic and aesthetic specifications are met through unique design.
To learn more about how we can revamp your specialist clinic and make your consulting rooms and other spaces more patient-friendly, chat to the Space for Health team today.