Clinic Design: The Waiting Rooms

March 26, 2012

The basic design and programming of waiting rooms are evolving. Increasingly, healthcare organizations are realizing that minimizing wait time and providing comforting features are integral to successful healthcare delivery.

Waiting rooms serve many functions. They are not necessarily exclusive to the front of the building anymore, especially with larger healthcare facilities.

Let’s look at a few basic waiting rooms:

Main public waiting rooms
These are usually located near the main entrance. Yet in many newer or renovated facilities, the main waiting rooms are being reconfigured to serve a greater range of functions. In some instances, they serve as a community gathering spot with such amenities as coffee shops and public education spaces with computers for patient education. These spaces may also be combined with larger public spaces to serve as the lobby for an entire healthcare campus.

Sick/well areas within main public waiting rooms
Prevalent in children’s hospitals and clinics, these spaces help reduce the spread of contagious illnesses and provide physical privacy for those who may be immunosuppressed.

Sub-waiting rooms
These are typically alcoves located near lab and diagnostic areas to provide visual privacy for patients needing to change into a gown. They also are used along the side of a clinic’s main circulation concourse for short-term waiting.

Waiting lounges
Lounges are located near patient recovery or treatment areas. Designed for family or friends who may wait several hours for a loved one recovering from treatment or day surgery, the spaces should be comfortable and private, and provide positive distractions for adults and children alike to help ease the long wait time.

No matter the specific location or function, waiting rooms set the tone for the healthcare experience. When we enter a waiting room, we immediately become aware of the surrounding sights, sounds and smells.

Aesthetics, lighting, exterior views, seating, furnishings, regional artwork, indoor climate, positive distractions, and accessibility to building amenities play into a successful waiting room. If properly designed, waiting rooms support an important part of healing and wellness.

For the other blogs in this clinic design series, please see:

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Comments

Question

Great post, Christine -- really enjoying this series. I was wondering how you feel about the use of televisions in healthcare waiting spaces? I know that some feel they are a necessary evil, but can an argument be made that we are better off without them? Just curious about your take on the issue.