Five Trends in Medical Office Design

Keeping along the lines of this month’s theme “working with specialist” we sat down with Equity’s very own Phil Kirkpatrick to discuss some trends in Healthcare Office Design. Phil is a Project Manager for Equity and oversees the development of Medical Office Buildings, Surgery Centers, and Skilled Nursing Facilities. Specialist keep abreast of trends, cost saving strategies and efficiencies in design, and understand regulatory requirements that may affect design. Below are a few trends that he shared with us.

  1. Patient Waiting Rooms

Patients often form their first impression of a medical practice in the waiting room, or reception area. Everything from the arrangement of seating to the type and intensity of lighting has an impact on a patient’s experience. Phil Kirkpatrick explains how medical office design has evolved to improve the experience for a patient.

“Many physician offices are doing away with reception windows and installing an open countertop at the reception desk.”  While most offices used reception windows to comply with HIPPA regulations, it did not give a warm and welcoming feel to the patient. Phil explains that there are several ways to make an open reception desk still comply with HIPPA regulations.  Additionally, the patient waiting room is typically where the “upgrades” are installed in the office. More physicians are using granite countertops at the reception desk, rather than in exam rooms.  Additionally, using LED instead of linear fluorescent light fixtures in waiting rooms, or natural lightening from windows when applicable.

  1. Less Filing and Storage Areas

One trend that affects space demand and design for medical office buildings is the onset of electronic medical records. The need for file storage in a medical office has decreased significantly. Rather than decreasing the size of a standard physician office, many physicians use that space for more clinical space or different sub-waiting rooms.

  1. Centralized Washing Stations

Another space utilization trend that Phil Kirkpatrick sees in new medical office build out is a centralized washing station. Rather than having a sink in every exam room, which is a costly addition to medical build out, having centralized washing stations for nurses or physicians to use before entering an exam room is becoming more common.

  1. The Wireless Movement

Some offices are moving toward wireless distribution of data instead of using a cat5 line. Physician office requirements for wireless are much greater than requirements for consumer use; it must be secure, work all the time, everywhere in the office and for all the users. Size of the office, number of devices, and types of devices used will determine how many access points need to be installed to maintain adequate Internet speed to maintain staff productivity.  Wireless is designed to have a range of about 100 – 125 feet indoors.

  1. Upgrades and Materials

Another trend in medical office design is the type of flooring used throughout the clinical area. In the past, physicians would commonly use vinyl in the exam rooms and carpet throughout hallways and offices. With the appearance of wood floors and the durability of vinyl; vinyl plank is a great a substitute. Cost wise it typically runs about $4-$5 per square foot more than vinyl but is still less costly than real hardwood floor.