Clinic Design: The Check-out
In our final installment on clinic design, we’ll look at the patient check-out.
Some basic design choices can help expedite the check-out process. For instance, the check-out should be conveniently located and comfortably appointed so patients have a place to sit, if needed, and have a positive last impression.
Architectural forms, interior finishes, color, signage, lighting, and changes in ceiling heights and floor patterns clearly communicate the check-out location. Spaces should also meet HIPAA requirements to maintain patient privacy and confidentiality.
The following check-out locations illustrate the challenges balancing convenience, privacy, and comfort.
The most common location for check-out is on the exam room side of the reception desk. This requires patients to loop back toward the main reception areas.
In this example, designers focus on visual and acoustical privacy because the check-in and check-out are handled in the same multi-purpose area, where patients and staff often exchange confidential information.
Exam room check-out
Some clinics are now completing check-out, rescheduling, and health education tasks in the exam room. Most exam rooms are equipped with computers for staff to schedule follow-up appointments.
This is especially useful when patients’ post-exam care requires appointment coordination from several healthcare specialties.
One-stop exam rooms
In one-stop exam rooms, a printer in each room enables caregivers to print personalized care plans, prescriptions, and educational materials after the exam or consultation. This one-stop method helps streamline operational processes by illuminating extra steps to retrieve material from a central location.
Many clinics prefer to locate check-outs in a designated area near an entry or exit to avoid congestion near exam rooms. Here, rescheduling can occur in an alcove or enclosed room.
Visual and acoustical privacy is attained by creating a physical buffer zone away from staff and exam room areas and incorporating sound-absorbent acoustical panels.
Ultimately, the check-out experience combines with other clinic experiences—from arrival to the exam room—to support a positive patient experience. Going to a doctor is stressful enough. A well-planned clinic helps minimize patient stress.
For the other blogs in this clinic design series, please see: