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Today, I find myself in the hospital waiting area while my husband has knee replacement surgery. I will be there 3-4 hours, possibly more.

Yesterday, I received a digital copy of Steelcase Health’s “Time for Change: New Solutions for Healthcare Places” — a guide that was informed by 18 studies and 15,000 hours of observation over 10 years.  In it was a section on waiting places, with five key insights to inform hospital waiting area design:

  1. Addition of technology empowers meaningful waiting
  2. People naturally seek separation from strangers and proximity to family while waiting
  3. Physical and emotional comfort is important when people are waiting
  4. Active, productive waiting calls for a variety of environments
  5. Waiting is an ideal opportunity to educate people about good health

Just by calling it “waiting places” rather than “waiting areas” means that its a different kind of space. And while the hospital waiting area I’m in right now is pretty nice, it was probably designed more than 10 years ago.

So, its waiting area only partially addresses the issues above.

Does it matter?  The people here are friendly and helpful, and I feel that my husband is getting good care.

Like the airport, though, I’m camped by one of the only outlets in the room.  And the chairs are lined up around the perimeter and in the center — not very conducive to conversation when the rest of my family gets here.

There’s a water fountain, artwork, fireplace, and a coffee maker. One semi-private space in the corner by the business center. Not bad, but we can do better.

It’s quite simple, really — just follow Steelcase Health’s suggested design principles:  design for the human factor and integrate the experiences.  That works for just about any type of project, doesn’t it?

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Mark Walters

6 years ago

Hi,
FYI – In some of my spare time I am a medical K-9 volunteer at various medical and educational type facilities.

Regarding the medical facilities, just to note — the use of having a medical K-9 team in the hospital doing rounds/visits to various units we all know are beneficial.

On the “Waiting Spaces” specifically with Emergency Waiting Areas, my experience with visiting these areas makes a big difference. Just with the entering, distraction and interaction of a K-9 it takes peoples’ minds off the present tensions and provides comfort while waiting.

Sara Marberry

6 years ago

Mark, as you’ve experienced, positive distractions are essential to a good waiting experience. Thanks for sharing your story.

Norma Roles

6 years ago

I have had my share of waiting in hospitals, and the best ones I’ve experienced so far have some things in common: comfortable, supportive, non-ganging seating; flexibility for the “waitees” to move pieces around to best suit their needs; proximity to restrooms and food/coffee venues; sit/stand work areas; and of course wifi and bountiful power outlets.

Sara Marberry

6 years ago

Good insights, Norma!

My Top 10 Healthcare Design Posts in 2014 - Sara Marberry Sara Marberry

6 years ago

[…] Today, I find myself in the hospital waiting area while my husband has knee replacement surgery. I will be there 3-4 hours, possibly more. Yesterday, I received a digital copy of Steelcase Health’s “Time for Change: New Solutions for Healthcare Places” — a guide that was informed by 18 studies and 15,000 hours of observation over 10 years. In it was a section on waiting places, with five key insights to inform hospital waiting area design… Read more. […]

Margaret Fleming

6 years ago

Unfortunately, Sara, what they meant was comfort as long as you are average size with average or longer legs. I was in the Breast center waiting room Tuesday for three hours before someone got up and let me grab the chair where my feet reached the floor and my lumbar spine stopped hurting.
Hospital designers have enough power that they don’t need to let furniture makers call the shots. Compatible style can accommodate chairs that fulfill the Mayo Clinic Rx to choose a chair where your feet touch the floor, your hips and knees are in the same plane. And my surgeon doesn’t like our spines leaning dangerously in deep chairs.

Sara_Marberry_Sq

Sara Marberry, EDAC, is a healthcare design knowledge expert, thought catalyst, and strategic marketing and business development consultant. The author/editor of three books, Sara writes and speaks frequently about industry trends and evidence-based design. She can be reached at sara@saramarberry.com.

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