In my general practitioner’s office, as well as my children’s pediatrician’s office, the common patient waiting spaces are filled with rows of chairs. And each office has a dedicated area for sick patients, making those who are super ill feel a bit ostracized. To add to that uncomfortable feeling, the books and magazines there are so outdated, torn, and disheveled it feels as though I’m reading information from historical archives.
Additionally, both places are a bit loud. My GP’s office has a TV that plays a recirculating health information channel at a distractingly loud volume. Although I’ve collected tidbits of information here and there from the looping program, for the most part, the TV just makes it a challenge to concentrate on the items I’ve chosen to entertain myself, such as work or a good book.
Not to mention privacy, which always seems to be a challenge. For example, while waiting at the pediatrician’s office, it is difficult to talk to my children without everyone hearing what I have to say. There is no privacy to be had.
Finally, the only connection to the outside world is the one I bring through my smartphone, meaning the time spent in these offices gets a bit lonely and feels a bit disconnected — much different than my everyday life.
Common Areas and Patient Disconnect
After thousands of hours of research, Steelcase Health found my needs as a patient to be the norm. Patients and loved ones bring things to keep them both productive and entertained while they wait for their doctor. And for many individuals and groups, privacy is a high priority, especially during highly emotional times.
Steelcase Health researchers also found that many common areas, unfortunately, fit the description above. “Common spaces don’t typically accommodate for the various steps patients and families may be on in their healthcare journeys. The rows of chairs you often see spread out in common spaces eliminate the opportunity for privacy and create a disconnect for patients, loved ones, and even clinicians,” explained Jason Vanderground, brand manager of Steelcase Health. “Instead, common areas can be utilized to enhance the patient journey during transition periods, creating a new healthcare experience.”
Steelcase Health research clearly demonstrates that common areas can be cultivated to work harder, helping to facilitate more personal interaction and better meet patient needs. They can facilitate privacy, productive waiting, and entertainment, by allowing individuals to have choices over how they make use of their time. Overall, the core principle is giving people more choice and control over the environment they are in, so they have options to be empowered.
What do you think? Do you believe better healthcare environments can improve the quality of care and patient experience?
Find out about Regard, by Steelcase Health, which takes into account the multi-faceted needs of patients, families, and clinicians in healthcare environments — helping to eliminate the disconnect by better integrating common spaces as environments that go beyond waiting and aesthetics.
Did you miss Part One? Read Patient Isolation and How Technology Can Solve It here.