Tag Archives: art and healing

Waiting Rooms: How To Design To Impress

Published on April 15, 2014 Healthcare Design

The patient experience is taking on a whole new level of importance for providers, as the industry shifts to a value-based service model, where outcomes and satisfaction drive reimbursements.

“Most hospitals have been focused on the back-of-house operations, where everything was about volume and efficiency,” says Michael Lied, director of healthcare, principal, GBBN Architects (Cincinnati). “Now the value is shifting to the front of the house and the customer service aspect.”

To that end, the waiting room and the overall waiting experience have fallen under new scrutiny, particularly the traditionally stale environments where patients and visitors might pass what feels like excruciatingly long periods of time. Providers are engaging designers to create spaces that make patients and visitors feel comfortable, appreciated, and valued for their time while setting their organization apart from others.

This shift is driving changes in the design approach, from the right-sizing of these spaces to the aesthetics, furnishings, and technologies that are being put to use.

“We’re putting a lot of thought into creating a look and feel of the institution,” Lied says. “The finishes and imagery we use all tie in together and help differentiate them from others.”

Spaces in transition

Most designers agree that the days of large waiting rooms with row after row of chairs are over. Instead, suggests David Grandy, director of innovation and senior healthcare strategist at HDR, Inc. (Omaha, Neb.), organizations are taking one of two points of view on these spaces.

“Providers are looking to add value by designing more patient- and family-friendly spaces,” he says, with solutions taking the form of added amenities, educational opportunities, flexible layouts that can be reconfigured for after-hours group appointments or classes, and a variety of seating arrangements.

On the other hand, he says, some organizations are downsizing waiting spaces and shifting the waiting experience to exam rooms instead, oftentimes involving a self-rooming operational model.

Other designers acknowledge that clients are considering adoption of check-in kiosks and self-registration, but not everyone’s on board yet.

“I think there’s still a lot of belief that having a person to welcome you and to answer any questions is comforting to many people,” says Christine Guzzo Vickery, vice president and senior interior healthcare designer with HGA Architects and Engineers (Minneapolis).

Marc Margulies, co-founder of Margulies Perruzzi Architects (MPA; Boston), says he’s seeing a shift to smaller, department-specific waiting spaces that are more hospitality oriented, with residential-type furniture and places to plug in electronic devices. “People don’t want to feel like they’re being shuffled in and out too mechanically,” he says.

In the case of inpatient settings, Vickery says the rise in private patient rooms that are large enough to accommodate family members is also contributing to the downsizing of waiting rooms. But in some departments, like an OR, she says waiting rooms are still very busy—and very necessary—to accommodate families waiting for updates about patients and their procedures.

In ambulatory care settings, GBBN’s Lied says he’s seeing growing adoption of central reception and waiting areas. “All the information you need is in one space to help with wayfinding and clarity,” he says. “It also helps [facilities] identify their brand by the appearance of that area when you walk in.”

Better places to spend time  

Across facility types, efforts are being made to improve the waiting experience through the use of more consumer-friendly features.

Amy Mees, senior medical planner, interior design, at GBBN Architects, says her clients have a strong desire for retail-inspired furniture arrangements. “Everyone wants to have this Starbucks look and feel with a variety of table and seating options,” she says.

Steph Shroyer, interior designer at GBBN, says creating a variety of niches, from spaces for parents to sit down with their kids to worktables for those arriving with laptops and iPads, helps patients and visitors craft an experience that’s right for them.

“We’re trying to have different areas and activity zones so that your wait doesn’t feel like a wait anymore,” she says.

And while patients and visitors are still looking for activities to help pass the time, they’re looking beyond a TV broadcasting daytime dramas and talk shows. In fact, in a pilot study conducted by Vickery’s firm on waiting room activities in 2011, 95 percent of the roughly 230 respondents said “reading” was the activity they most wanted, followed by “use of a mobile phone” (57 percent), and “watching TV” (41 percent).

To accommodate these preferences and keep a TV from being a distraction, Vickery says she uses dividers to create waiting zones and plans the space so that everyone’s not waiting in one continuous area.

“The TV’s are then strategically placed within one or two of the dividers so that the sound is contained,” she says. “Those wishing to read quietly or watch a fireplace or aquarium can sit near dividers that contain those amenities.”

Certain design features can also help prevent patients and visitors from feeling isolated from what’s happening behind the scenes, whether they’re waiting for their own appointment or the results of a family member’s surgery.

During a project for Reliant Medical Group (Worcester, Mass.), Margulies says MPA installed a door with a glass pane between the waiting room and the back-of-the-house area.

“If you have to wait, it’s very frustrating to be sitting there and feel like nothing’s going on,” he says. “But if you see people coming and going, and staff moving around in the clinical area, then you feel there’s something happening and that they’ll get to you.”

The visual sightline also helps patients leaving an exam room find the reception area and know which way to exit a facility.

The operations of waiting
Though waiting in healthcare spaces isn’t likely to go away, Rosalyn Cama, president and principal interior designer of Cama Inc. (New Haven, Conn.), says improving the experience overall starts with understanding the expectations patients have from the get-go. What are they being told before a visit? How will they arrive? What do they perceive to be necessary on-site amenities?

“In this new model of care, design teams are looking for knowledge about how the built environment impacts the psychology of meeting expectations and how it influences consumers’ basis for reporting on services,” she says.

Cama says she’d like to see technology utilized to improve flow and help communicate with patients, even before and during their arrival. For example, if a patient is early or if a doctor is running late, then a notice or message could be sent to the person so they could seek alternative ways to spend their wait time, such as using on-site amenities or outdoor spaces.

HGA’s Vickery says interactive screens or kiosks can also be used to give patients a better sense of what their wait will be like—how many patients are ahead of them in line and how much time those visits will take.

Cama cites airlines’ use of gate announcements of flight status or the Ritz Carlton’s use of headsets at curbside valet to notify departments, such as reception, registration, and housekeeping, that a guest has arrived, as sources of ideas for healthcare on improving the time between patient arrival and registration.

“These models exist and should be scrutinized, not copied, to reveal new ways that allow making the arrival sequence to a medical visit patient-centric,” she says.

Waiting for the future
Thanks to technology advancements, healthcare reform changes, and the drive to be patient-centric, the already evolving waiting experience may look very different just five years from now.

Vickery says that in addition to a smaller size for open spaces overall, she’d also like to see private spaces incorporated where visitors can make a call or get work done.

“Just having more places where people can tuck in and work on their computer, make a call, or do what they need to do and still have some privacy and hear their name called for an appointment,” she says.

“The main things that matter are making sure someone knows they’re there, that they haven’t been forgotten, that they have privacy and it’s comfortable,” she says.

GBBN’s Shroyer says she’d like the experience to become more personalized, mimicking a spa-like approach where there’s a small reception area to register patients before allowing them to select an appropriate space for their wait, such as a kid-friendly area for families or a cozy lounge for adults.

Lied says adding new amenities, such as dry cleaning services, could be another way to fill wait time with constructive activities. “All of a sudden you’re getting things done, and you have a better experience,” he says.

For more on waiting room design, check out “Aesthetics Of A Successful Wailing Room.”

Anne DiNardo is senior editor of Healthcare Design. She can be reached at adinardo@vendomegrp.com.

Source: Waiting Rooms: How To Design To Impress

Healing Masterpiece by Anne DiNardo

Published on September 22, 2015 by Anne DiNardo, Senior Editor Healthcare Design
The importance of art in healthcare spaces is an idea that has blossomed in the last decade as more designers and operators recognize the healing benefits of positive distraction, nature views, and daylight within their care environments.

When Grinnell Regional Medical Center (Grinnell, Iowa) had the opportunity to build out vacant shell space to enlarge its chemotherapy infusion treatment services, it was presented with a large open area with lots of windows that brought in n abundance of natural light. On the down side, however, was the view since the 30 windows overlooked a parking lot.

Artist Lee Emma Running was hired to create an art installation for the new suite, which provided a solution to that view by using the windows and suite walls as a canvas for a botanical art installation. Inspired by the abundance of hydrangea flowers in Iowa, Running sought to capitalize on the light coming into the space by creating a piece that would extend from the windows to the walls of the new 1,360-square-foot suite, making the space feel private while also referencing the dappled light of sitting outside in the natural world.

The piece includes a 200-foot dimensional mural of painted flowers and hand-cut silhouettes for the hallway into the suite, while the waiting room and treatment spaces windows are etched with floral patterns, creating a botanical screen on the windows. “Working on the glass itself means the light changes the botanical shadows in the room over the course of the day,” Running says.

Kevin White, owner of Kevin White Design (Des Moines, Iowa), which provided design, documentation, and management services on the expansion project, says he worked with Running to bring her concept to life by adding drywall bulkheads above the infusion bays and around the nurse station so there would be more surfaces to mount the flower pieces, which care fastened using small hidden brads.

Running worked with local students to produce the botanical pieces, which totaled more than 60 hand-cut pieces of PVC material and stencils for 30 windows. The final masterpiece, she says, is a space that feels beautiful in any season and kind of light.

“I wanted it to be calming for patients who were returning to the space for multiple treatments, and attractive for the nurses and staff who work in the space every day,” she says.

To read other great articles on Art in Healthcare

The Health Benefits of Nature Photography

Sky flower (Duranta erecta) was created by Melissa Fague.We all know that calm landscape and nature photographs are beautiful but did you know that they can also help with the healing process after traumas and  metal health issues. Recently, a study has been done by Dr Dacher Keltner of California University in Berkeley on the positive impact of the Immune System and visual arts, such as nature photographs. The Study is called Positive Affect and Markers of Inflammation: Discrete Positive Emotions Predict Lower Levels of Inflammatory Cytokines. Dr. Keltner states “That awe, wonder and beauty promote healthier levels of cytokines which suggests the things we do to experience these emotions – a walk in nature, losing oneself in music, beholding art – has a direct influence upon health and life expectancy.”

When the viewer is experiencing the beauty in art or nature the research shows that  the viewer had healthier levels of cytokines; are chemicals that help the body fight infection, disease and trauma.

Positive Affect and Markers of Inflammation: Discrete Positive Emotions Predict Lower Levels of Inflammatory Cytokines. It was published in the journal Emotion January 19, 2015

For beautifully inspiring nature photos, come checkout our Nature Photography Gallery

Landscape Photography in Healthcare Facilities

Landscape Photography: Pixley Falls 1 createde by Landscape Photographer Melissa Fague

Art and photography are connected to positive healing, especially if the art or photographs revolve around nature. And while there is a variety of landscape photographs, paintings, and other pieces of art in the healthcare setting; realistic and inspiring landscape photographs seem to work best at raising positive emotions, thinking, and in the healing process. It’s best to pick landscape photographs or pieces of artwork that are welcoming to the viewer; pictures of non-threatening places offer serenity for the viewer to escape to when they aren’t feeling well. The landscape photographs can keep a calm, positive environment; this is part of the  Evidence-based Design research.

Come check out our beautiful Landscape Photography Gallery for inspiring ideas.