Clinic Design: Determining Location Factors of a New Clinic
As previously noted, I will focus on clinic design over the next several blogs to identify successful design strategies.
Let’s start with location factors.
When looking for healthcare services, patients must decide which clinic to visit. Insured patients typically identify clinics within an approved provider network. Underinsured or uninsured patients often seek care at safety-net clinics mandated to provide healthcare services regardless of payment ability.
While reimbursement influences choices, the building itself also plays a major role. Patients often consider convenience, ease of access, connections to the community, and visibility. Likewise, healthcare organizations take these four factors into consideration when selecting a location.
Primary care clinics are located in a variety of convenient sites, from office buildings to mixed-use developments, strip malls, shopping centers, and community crossroads. Conversely, specialty care clinics (or regional clinics) often are located near major highway intersections for regional accessibility. This evolving structure, known as a “hub and spoke model,” locates primary care along the spokes and specialized care at major hubs.
Ease of access
Designers often balance multiple factors to ensure ease of access, including whether this is a primary care or regional clinic, projected patient population, hours of operation, staffing needs, travel options (public transit, pedestrian, car), and on-site parking requirements. The clinic’s location in an urban, suburban, or rural setting plays into site analysis. For a satellite clinic in a densely populated St. Paul, Minnesota, residential neighborhood, for instance, we determined that many patients would walk to the storefront location, thus mitigating the need for high-volume parking.
Connections to the community
Clinics can heighten awareness about their location and services by creatively connecting with their community. Strategies include engaging stakeholders in the planning process, providing community spaces, incorporating a wellness center, and integrating regional architecture.
Architecture, branding, lighting, and landscaping all contribute to a clinic’s visibility. For St. Luke’s The Woodlands healthcare campus outside Houston, we established a community medical center that carries the St. Luke’s brand of quality care throughout the multibuilding campus. The architecture evokes the Texas Hill Country vernacular, combining warm materials, colors, and regional forms in a visitor-friendly setting to increase visibility in the growing suburban community.