When designing a waiting room for your doctor’s office, your first concern is likely the cleanability and safety of the reception area, and that’s a good thing. Patient and caregiver health should always come first when designing any space in a medical facility, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the aesthetics.
A well-designed doctor’s office waiting room should make patients and their families feel comfortable and more at ease—especially considering the nervous and frightened feelings many visitors experience while in a healthcare facility. Here’s how to design your healthcare waiting room to be aesthetically pleasing and comfortable for patients and their families.
Consider Traffic Flow
First, you should arrange the furniture in your waiting room to make the space feel open and easy to navigate. Not only are large walkways necessary for the safety of patients and staff, but they’re also beneficial for the mental well-being of your guests. Chairs and tables that are too close together can make people feel confined, adding to the stress of being at the doctor.
In addition to optimizing the flow of your seating area, create clear paths to your reception desk and exam rooms. Making your guests search too hard to find their room or an information desk will almost certainly add to the stress of their visit.
Choose Comfortable Seating
It’s important that waiting room seating in a healthcare facility be durable and easy to clean, but it should also be comfortable enough for your guests to relax during their wait. Choose well-padded guest chairs, and incorporate several types of seating into your space. There should be chairs with arms for those who prefer to rest their arms, chairs without arms for those who don’t like them, bariatric seating for guests who need it, and possibly loveseats or sofas for parents and children who want to sit together.
Think of Your Team
Although you’ll certainly want to make your guests feel welcome in your reception area, you should also take measures to make your staff comfortable. After all, happy employees do the best work. Outfit your reception area with a desk that’s an appropriate size for the space and provides front desk staff with the filing and storage they need to do their jobs effectively. You’ll also want to make sure that your receptionist has a good ergonomic chair to sit in throughout the day to prevent fatigue.
Consider Calming Color Schemes
Even if your facility’s brand color is purple, that doesn’t mean you should paint your entire lobby violet. Remember, the goal in healthcare interior design is to be soothing. Choose soft and neutral colors, and try to make the room feel more like a cozy home living room than a medical facility. Soft shades of green, brown, or gray are great for waiting room walls, and chairs, tables, and a reception desk in a soft wood-patterned laminate will create the feel you want. One exception is in pediatrics. Because children are the main focus in a pediatric facility, feel free to incorporate bold, bright colors that will excite young patients.
Add Contemporary Décor
Similarly, the artwork, accessories, and décor in your reception area should reflect the calming look you’re going for in your office furniture color scheme. Add faux plants to unused corners and use naturescapes in your wall art for a serene appearance.
Light the Way
Lighting should reflect the needs of your specific facility. Soft, bright light creates a sense of calm, while low, warm light can make a space look homier. While natural light is always best, it’s not always a viable option. Try to avoid fluorescent lighting, which can come off as harsh on the eyes and make guests feel fatigued.
Incorporate Technology and Active Waiting
Nobody enjoys sitting in a waiting room, but you can make the experience more positive by offering reading materials, free Wi-Fi, and a play area for children in your waiting room. Providing these small pleasures will give your guests and patients something to do while they wait, which can take their minds off of their impending appointment and make them feel more comfortable with their surroundings.