Continuing our discussion of clinic design, let’s look at the reception and check-in areas. The reception area is usually the first place patients have face-to-face interaction with staff. The design provides an opportunity to project a positive impression.
Key design features to consider include:
Reception and check-in areas should be easy to find and welcoming. Dropped soffits, custom-designed reception desks, contrasting finishes, and changes in the color, texture or pattern of floor, wall or ceiling finishes help direct patients. Clear signage integrated with overall facility signage helps patients avoid confusion and reduces stress.
Designing HVAC systems that maintain indoor environmental comfort in the reception area is especially challenging. Mechanical engineers must consider the qualities of interior spaces, the orientation of a clinic’s entry and the characteristics of the building envelope to size, configure, and locate heating, cooling, and ventilation.
Receptionists often exchange confidential information. Strategies for preserving patient privacy include positioning waiting room seating away from the reception desks, ensuring staff computers face away from the waiting areas, physically separating the reception from the waiting room, using sound-masking systems, and locating staff telephones in a sound-proof office.
Technology has not eliminated the need for a receptionist or greeter. Clinic staff is typically still needed to answer questions, provide directions, or assist patients with electronic data entry. Since some patients prefer the human touch and some are not comfortable with technology, clinics should have at least one staff member stationed in the reception area.
In the future, the integration of communication technology will continue to influence the design of clinics. In fact, as electronic notepads become more affordable, clinics may be handing them to patients to input their data rather than the usual clipboard and pen now used. Or patients may register by swiping a card that carries their digital health history and insurance information.
As designers, it is our responsibility to be the innovators and help keep the client competitive.
For the other blogs in this clinic design series, please see: