A clinic’s size and configuration are shaped by its specialization. In our ongoing series on clinic design, we now look at different Clinic Modules to understand how function impacts design.

Because academic clinics are teaching clinics, they serve the dual purpose of patient care and student education. Exam rooms must consider patient privacy while still providing a centrally located teaching zone and faculty zone.

A centrally located work zone allows for quick conversation between staff and residents. Whittier Clinic in Minneapolis uses this module. 

In this module, decentralized nurses’ stations are close to the physician offices and medical supplies, and within varying distances to exam rooms. Private offices are located adjacent to their assigned exam rooms.

Physician and staff collaborative
As the collaborative care model is becoming more prevalent, designers have been locating nurses’ stations and physicians’ offices close to each other (or eliminating private offices altogether) to provide shared work areas and more opportunities for communication.

Patient self-rooming
Clinics using self-rooming processes give patients instructions when they are checking in so they can locate their specific exam room. Key attributes to self-rooming are minimizing waiting space and freeing up nurse time to allow more time for care.

The on-stage/off-stage module organizes spaces from the most public to the most private so patients do not see behind-the-scenes activities. As with the self-rooming module, it provides separate access to exam rooms for patients and staff.

This model uses dual access patient rooms: The patient enters from the public corridor and medical staff enters from the back areas.

Control center
This design concept brings the right people with the right skills together at the right time. The control center is staffed with caregivers representing key functions within the clinic, located near high-activity areas, and designed for maximum communication and collaboration.

The “T”
This module is shaped like a “T,” in which nurses’ stations are in the hall opposite the physician offices. Exam rooms are located on the other leg of the “T.” And while nurse stations and physician offices are not next to the exam rooms, the layout works because caregivers are in proximity to each other.

Generally, this layout requires lower travel distance for the patient as the staff areas are located in the back of the space.

Ultimately, programming determines the best approach to a Clinic Module. An infectious control clinic will have different programming needs from an oncology clinic. As designers planning a new clinic, we must consider how to achieve the greatest operational efficiency for the best patient care.

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