Aligning Healthcare Environments to Meet People’s Needs

Healthcare environments possess the ability to empower their inhabitants, as was detailed in the recent Steelcase 360 Magazine article “Exam Rooms that Empower People“:

As active participants versus passive patients, today’s consumers of care are transforming past norms, driving rapid change across the industry as they seek a person-to-person approach and more control over decisions about their health and wellbeing. With patient engagement becoming the new clinical paradigm, exam rooms are overdue for an overhaul.

Technology use can help make the exam experience more comfortable.

“We try to create humanized experiences along the healthcare journey that empower individuals and connect individuals and information,” says Von Robinson, a principal designer with Steelcase Health by Steelcase. “Any opportunity where people, place, and technology come together is a key moment on the care journey. Examples of these moments include doctors and their patients communicating, patients interacting with their loved ones, and healthcare personnel seeking out space to connect, download their instructions, or rest.”

Thousands of hours of observation and inquiry helped Steelcase Health researchers to understand how healthcare spaces are actually used and to identify ways they can be improved. They concluded that traditional exam rooms are insufficient to support the stepped-up teaching and learning that are essential for people’s engagement in their health.

Multi-purpose exam rooms give the clinician and the patient the flexibility to choose the posture and position that suits them best

“There is a phrase we have been using to summarize the idea of a palette of place in the exam room: ‘one size does not fit all’,” explained Robinson. “Regarding patients, the goal is to empower by creating an exam room that enables them to focus, feel comfortable communicating, and easily take in information via technology to help them participate in their healthcare journey. This ultimately can enhance positive outcomes for the patient and hopefully reduce further readmissions.”

The 360 article goes on to say:

Creating a palette of place—within the exam room or in an adjoining room—to support the different activities that occur during exam and consultation assures that meaningful conversations can take place and new and emerging technologies can be used to heighten understanding. For healthcare providers, it’s important that exam rooms are efficient, well-equipped spaces that streamline work processes. Easy mobility can be a time-saver. And with smart devices, apps and Web-based information among the new tools healthcare providers use for exams, it’s important that technology devices stay in reach and in sight for everyone in the exam room.

See the article for several additional exam room settings, and for further insight on the future of the exam room, check out these posts:

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