Practices, like any business, need to provide a positive customer experience in order to retain patients and remain in business.
A positive patient experience can be influenced by a variety of factors, including the oft-overlooked interior design of the facility itself. Making patients feel comfortable and providing distractions in a relaxing atmosphere can go a long way when it comes to patient satisfaction, according to healthcare design experts.
An excellent patient experience starts before a patient enters a medical office, according to Jinous Rouhani, CEO of Austin Area Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Fertility, located in Austin, Texas.
"Safe and secure parking are things people don't pay attention to, but they can really break a patient. It's aggravating for a patient to have to constantly look for a parking spot," says Rouhani.
Once patients park and make their way to the facility, the opportunity for good first impressions continues with the design of the medical office, even at the front door. "Typically, offices don't pay attention to the front doors and they look very sterile at medical offices. Try to go the opposite direction and make them welcoming for the patients," says Rouhani.
The doors don't need to be top-of-the-line or cost a lot, they just need to make patients feel comfortable, according to Rouhani. "For example, our door has a homey, feminine touch, with beveled glass that is left open all day," she says.
Another challenge for practices is ensuring their facilities never look forgotten or outdated, something that a patient will notice immediately upon entering.
"If you walk into a facility that is outdated, whether it's consciously or subconsciously, your thought is that their care may also be outdated," says Kimberly Bernheimer, associate principal at PF&A Design, an architectural firm specializing in healthcare located in Norfolk, Va.
After the first impressions are out of the way, the challenge is to keep a patient comfortable during their visit, according to Bernheimer. "[The] biggest objective is to distract the patient from what they are going through. Creating a positive distraction is part of our job," says Bernheimer.