Flip No. 19

Rebuild, rethink, and reconfigure the clinic’s design

Make medical facilities work for the people who use them.

By Flip the Clinic

Before opening their brand new hospital in 2009, a small group of administrators and care providers at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh sat down to discuss the principles that would guide their new facility. They’d spent a long time interviewing patients, parents, and employees of the hospital.

What they realized was that from the time someone walked into the door, the environment drained patients and visitors.

Between alarms and beeping and overhead announcements, the onslaught of noise was relentless and stress-inducing. The environment was inflexible: patients had to wait in a designated room and stay there until they were called. Patients were in a bad mood long before they ever made it into the exam room. For their new hospital, the group decided every decision had to A) make patients feel continuously connected to the outside world, and B) allow patients to be in control of themselves and their environment.

The framework helped launch a truly innovative care center that’s a pleasant place for people. But it doesn’t take a complete overhaul to design a friendlier environment. Even little changes can dissipate stress and give back control to the patient. Good design can help providers work more efficiently and patients heal more quickly. From small investments to massive overhauls, here’s a range of tools that will make the clinical environment a more positive one. (A growing collection of visual examples can also be found on FTC’s Pinterest page).

Reclaiming the Physical Environment