As designers, we provide expertise that enables our healthcare clients to be industry leaders. Staying atop of industry changes—from shifting demographics to evolving technology and Evidence Based research—pays off in better designed facilities. Over the past several blogs, we’ve looked at trends shaping healthcare design over the past 25 years—campus planning to patient units and building infrastructure. Hospitals are constantly evolving to incorporate improved healthcare delivery processes while placing greater emphasis on patient comfort.

Look no further than common spaces—the public face of healthcare facilities—to see changes in healthcare design. By creating more inviting spaces, healthcare providers are recognizing the personal side of the healthcare process.

Here are five interesting common space changes we’ve seen in the past 25 years.

Retail Space
Hospitals have always had such retail options as a pharmacy and gift shop, but today’s facilities are adding more choices and taking design cues from malls for an appealing shopping experience. Storefront windows, enhanced lighting, upscale finishes, and sophisticated displays create a pedestrian-oriented retail experience.

Promoting Wellness
Healthcare providers are incorporating spaces that promote wellness and preventative care. One example is a wellness walk, which encourage staff, patients and community members to exercise. Wellness walks can include interior circulation paths through commons spaces, outdoor nature paths, or a gym track in a wellness center.

Education Centers
Education centers are becoming important links in today’s facilities. In addition to computer terminals and other research tools, education centers attract patients and family members with comfortable seating, fireplaces and warm lighting to provide a peaceful respite. Larger education centers may offer auditoriums, training rooms and classrooms for staff and public programming.

Cafeterias are adopting a restaurants ambience, with interesting lighting, decorative detailing and more intimate seating. Many hospitals, in fact, are hiring restaurant chefs to create higher-quality menus and daily specials. In some smaller communities, the hospital cafeteria can become destination dining.

Hospitality Details
Hospitals are looking to hotels for design inspiration. Such interior choices as regional art, private seating areas, higher-end furnishings and connection to the outdoors help soften the institutional edges.