Exam Room

Redesigning the Exam Room for Mutual Participation

Americans make nearly one billion trips to the doctor every year, nearly three trips annually for every man, woman and child.

HealthAmericans make nearly one billion trips to the doctor every year, nearly three trips annually for every man, woman and child. It’s a universal scene—the exam table with its crinkly paper, the iconic doctor’s stool and a stiff chair for a family member. Maybe there’s a computer mounted to the wall or on a desk.

Replace the computer with a paper chart and this could be straight out of the 1950s—an era of booming healthcare construction. Nearly 70 years ago, the types of care patients needed were different. Expectations were different. Technology was different. Even the way clinicians and patients interacted was different. Yet many exam rooms today still reflect these outdated needs, failing to deliver optimal experiences for patients, family members and clinicians alike.

Today, exam rooms must be reconceived in the context of doctor-patient interaction models to support modern needs.

One model, known as Mutual Participation, is the focus of a study by Steelcase Health researchers and led to a new set of design principles, exam room concepts and ultimately to new product ideas, all created to transform exam rooms into spaces that meet today’s needs. Typical exam environments enable a fading model of care, despite clinicians’ desire to partner with patients and families, and the need for families and patients to be active participants. Let’s investigate the factors driving the need for change, and set the scene for the exam rooms of tomorrow.

One model, known as Mutual Participation, is the focus of a study by Steelcase Health researchers and led to a new set of design principles, exam room concepts and ultimately to new product ideas, all created to transform exam rooms into spaces that meet today’s needs.

This is an excerpt of a story included in a new publication “Exam + Waiting Experiences Reimagined.” by Steelcase Health. Start here to get the full booklet.


Get the Booklet

In this new publication, Steelcase Health explores two key issues facing healthcare. The first is how to evolve the exam room from an outdated space to one that builds new levels of patient trust and confidence—making them active participants in their care. The second article involves the waiting room experience: turning it from a passive environment to one that actively supports our physical, technological, and emotional needs.

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Leave a Comment

    Author

    Linda Wright MD

    Why not just have the old fashioned exam room with all the equipment that is currently available then a room that has a desk or table with chairs. That’s how I had my office when I was in practice. It was the same function as you describe but with furniture & equipment that is available everywhere.
    And how about don’t make people wait?

      Author

      Veronica

      The current visit has a physician and his tablet which does not require a desk. My doctor pulls up information to share, refer and explain matters to me. My rheumy just moved into a newly constructed building with designs like those shown here. They are working out the kinks. The consultation area & exam areas are compact with state of the art b-p machines and scales.
      The waiting room will never be ideal. All of my doctors have online check in to give you more privacy to do it at home.

    Author

    Rebecca C.

    Linda,
    Thank you so much for your comment. We asked Michelle Ossmann, MSN, PhD, Director of Healthcare Environments for Steelcase Health, your question. Here’s what she said:

    “Pairing exam rooms with consultation rooms (a room with table and chairs and the ability to share an electronic medical record) is certainly a viable option when one has sufficient square footage and when the practice model is supportive. An example of this can be found on page 19 of Time for Change. Given, however, a desire to be spatially economical and the challenges associated with coordinating between exam/consult rooms, the mutual participation model supports both the exam and consultation within one, efficient space.”

    Linda,
    You can find the document Michelle references here: https://www.steelcase.com/content/uploads/2015/01/Steelcase-Health-Time-for-Change-Insights-and-Applications-Guide.pdf

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