Members of the CPM team attended a special event called “Beyond the Exam Room” hosted by Kimball Health, DLR Group and Bentley last month. The event gave us an inside look at the issue with today’s outpatient spaces and what they could be with some design updates.
Our speakers were Aneetha McLellan, the principal of DLR Group, and Phillip LiBassi, senior principal of DLR Group, both of whom have extensive experience with health care design.
We, as patients, spend billions of dollars annually on health care. We’re getting more preventative care today and are aided by the fast-changing technology that gives us more insight into our own health data, such as FitBits and Apple Watches.
With all that information, it’s more important than ever for doctors to focus on building an experience for patients to retain them longer and keep them from going to other providers for their care. The speakers pointed out that studies have shown patients are willing to change providers for the doctor that has the better office experience.
Changing the “Waiting Room” Concept
That exceptional experience begins in the waiting room – which, in itself, sounds unpleasant to patients. But beyond that, patients complain about long wait times in uncomfortable waiting rooms and exam rooms. Once they see a doctor, they also have short meeting times with doctors with little interaction.
Instead, the speakers suggest that we should be putting our patients first, asking ourselves:
- What should happen in an exam room?
- What should an exam room be?
- How would this design affect patients of all ages, 5 to 75+?
This also relates to cutting costs for the business to provide better care. For instance, square footage equals more cost. There is no need to have an exam room and a separate consulting room — It’s redundant. Consulting can happen in an exam room. If providers reduce the square footage of their facilities and incorporate “consulting” throughout the entire patient’s experience, they can save money while creating an experience their patients crave.
What it comes down to is if providers want to stay in business over the next decade they must improve the quality of their overall office experience while reducing costs.
Despite all, you can’t ignore human touch and human empathy when it comes to human health.