While alerts and calls echo constantly throughout hospital floors, these noises are amplified in the emergency department, an area known for its complex and fast-paced environment. However, the addition of clinical collaboration systems can reduce noise and confusion, providing a positive care experience for nurses, physicians, and patients. At a recent “go live,” users reported a substantial reduction of noise in the emergency department due to the implementation of Halo’s clinical collaboration platform. Without the burden of ambiguous overhead pages and phone calls, the care environment was much quieter.
As more healthcare providers focus on patient-centric care, they will continue to consider certain aspects impacting patient satisfaction. Factors including effective communication, noise pollution, and interior design all contribute to one’s quality of care. Strategically designing environments from the patients’ perspectives will eliminate any stressors that negatively impact their overall experience.
In addition to clinicians and patients, we wanted to explore ways health systems are creating better care experiences for patients’ friends and family members. More attention is now placed on waiting areas where individuals not receiving treatment usually stay. Often unfamiliar, noisy, and crowded, these rooms fail to provide the right amount of privacy and relief.
By intentionally designing spaces to reduce noise and unnecessary clutter, we can elevate some elements of the waiting room and make individuals less aware of wait time. Below are three design solutions to consider.
Palette and Pattern
Used for visual impact and relief, color is one of the starting aspects for designing any environment. For healthcare environments in particular, it is important to consider the purpose and intent of the space when selecting color schemes. As stated in Color in Healthcare Environments: A Critical Review of the Research Literature, “color is linked to psychological, visual, aesthetic, and technical aspects of human-made environments.”
Product manufacturers today are providing more color, texture, and pattern for their healthcare-specific clients. Several providers, especially pediatric offices, have perfected maintaining a good balance of minimal visual clutter with bold palettes. While there are no defined “healing colors,” selecting certain hues creates serene environments for patients and their families. A mixture of monochromatic and accent color schemes alleviate anxiety and encourage activity.
Depending on their use, color and additional patterns can enhance activity and influence how people navigate spaces. Emphasizing this design element also helps with wayfinding, the method by which individuals guide themselves through a physical environment. Instead of focusing on unnecessary signage, small accents of color and patterns can serve as a subtle method of grabbing one’s attention.
Diverse Seating Arrangements
Typical back-to-back seating and uncomfortable chairs only point to one activity: waiting. By recognizing how families, friends, and other loves ones play a vital role in a patient’s recovery, we can build areas that support various activities. According to CAMA Inc. Senior Designer Tanya Paz, “Healthcare environments need to acknowledge that one family could be grieving near another family that is celebrating.”
High-backed chairs offer more privacy for those wishing to retreat, while counter-height tables and bar-height seats allow people to socialize, eat, and work for longer periods of time. Certain lounge chairs equipped with USB ports and power outlets make efficient use of the waiting space.
Although seating should match standards and meet healthcare requirements, providing diverse options for patients will make the waiting period more manageable.
Place with Purpose
When carefully placed, distractions can serve a greater purpose and allow patients to feel more confident about their upcoming treatment or appointment. Gone are the days of outdated magazines and pamphlets full of potential illnesses. From charging stations to Wi-Fi access, there are ample opportunities to divert the attention from uncertainty. Several physicians’ offices have started placing blood pressure monitors, weight scales, and even self-service kiosks for people to use while waiting.
Considering the acoustics of the space can also be beneficial, as it creates a calming environment for patients and their families. The combination of alerts, phones, and overhead paging eventually contributes to a patient’s dissatisfaction of care. Various health systems are now leveraging technology in order to accommodate individuals of different needs and preferences. Clinical secure messaging and alerting software allow for quieter modes of communication, which allow clinicians to send urgent information directly to one’s mobile device.
However, too quiet of a space can then amplify other distracting sounds such as upset family members or patients shouting in pain. By strategically creating zones designated for louder activities in addition to quieter areas, we can then provide our patients the optimal care environment.
Next Steps for Waiting Rooms
Along with the expectations of different health organizations, waiting areas need to accommodate both physical needs and social preferences. Providing more choices will ultimately minimize stress, anxiety, and uncertainty for patients and their families. Regardless of the space, we will continue to see providers incorporate strategic designs to enhance the patient experience.
Reducing noise and confusion through technology will ultimately improve communication. Utilizing smartphones and mobile devices in the place of pagers also enables the process to be readily adoptable and adaptable.
Interested in quieter healthcare environments? Learn more about our clinical collaboration platform and request a demo today!
Sources: Healthcare Design Magazine, Modern Healthcare, Mobi Health News