Flip #19 on the Flip the Clinic’s website investigates the idea of redesigning the clinic space itself as a way to improve the patient-clinician experience during clinical encounters. It showcases the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh’s success alongside other examples to illustrate how small yet significant adjustments alter the atmosphere of their clinic.
In the recent Phoenix FtC Lab, my team convened around the idea of Flipping the Waiting Room. What would it mean to take some of those things that can be changed right now, with minimal effort and resources, to create a more healing atmosphere?
Waiting rooms of all sorts are typically designed with little creativity, pleasing aesthetic, or thought to their significance in promoting a healing and healthy experience. They are viewed more as holding stations, much like the bygone drab airport terminal.
Learning from other industries
Project HoneyBee has often used the efficiency of the airline industry for preventing and pre-empting problems as a good model for wearable biosensors: continuous monitoring enables the critical examination necessary to pinpoint the transition between health and disease.
The airline industry is extending its vision of refining both safety and comfort of travelers’ airplane journey to its terminals. Anyone flying into John F. Kennedy Airport or LAX will see major overhaul of terminal design. In JFK, the United terminal went from a vacuous, dead holding station to an interactive – dare I say, fun – space. Shopping opportunities have increased, and now options extend beyond the Hudson News or Duty-Free shops. Westfield’s goal has been to transform traditionally dull, undefined space into a place that can be informative, fulfilling, and a fun addendum to a trip – rather than just a place to wait.
Westfield Construction is at the helm of many of the airport makeovers. They began with JFK, adding fine dining, retail experiences, and sleek design to the United terminal.
Amongst an additional 6 contracts, Tom Bradley’s LAX is getting a similar facelift.
These are current and projected images of the airport.
Applying this to the clinical visit:
Going to a clinic is inherently different than going to an airport, but there are important things to learn from Westfield’s success. Waiting rooms – or any room where long periods of time are spent, like a chemotherapy and dialysis administering room – can be transformed in similar ways. Providing meaning to a time and a place in this context might help to bridge communication divides between patients and clinicians, reduce anxiety to make clinical readings more accurate, or provide a welcomed moment of solace in stimulation-loaded day.
Flip the Clinic has already done research and provided suggestions about adjusting noise level, clinical distractions (like squeaky shoes), color scheme, and furniture deign. The presentation of this information is still in some ways overwhelming.
Our team, along with additional collaborators, propose to flip this card on its head. We will synthesize the excellent research and add to it small details from design magazines, Martha Stewart designers, patient advocacy groups, and front-line clinicians and clinician administrators. The result will be a tiered collection of DIY cards for transforming those clinics into places that promote a sense of healing and wellbeing throughout. By making alterations accessible and doable, we are hoping to promote a sense of success that will hopefully motivate clinics toward the next level of change. Perhaps this series will alleviate the burden clinics feel to cut waiting room times, and maybe – just maybe – “wait” times will become an integral part of the clinical visit, providing education and healing opportunities.