Designing healthcare spaces that work

As it appeared in the Australian Podiatrist Magazine Dec / Jan 2017 issue

Perfect Practice is an industry leading Australian family owned and operated healthcare construction fit-out business. Perfect Practice offer an end to end solution which integrates design, budget planning, scheduling and construction to create stunning, timeless practices.

For more than a decade, Perfect Practice have been creating amazing practice spaces in the healthcare industry and continue to deliver innovative practice designs built for tomorrow. The working environment has a huge impact on any health professional. Since we spend many of our waking hours in the workplace, practice design can have a great impact on our general health and wellbeing.

Healthcare clinics were once drab spaces associated with fluorescent lighting, cold tiled floors and the smell of antiseptic but more and more practices are moving towards creating warm and welcoming clinical environments that make patients feel at home and relaxed No matter who you are and at what stage you are at in your life, walking into a practice that gives you a feeling of comfort, safety and pleasure will always be more beneficial than walking into a cold and clinical space where you feel fear and anxiety. This is why it is important to make the patient feel at ease.

The design and layout of any workplace is vital for productivity, efficiency and comfort for occupants. Good design and layout can play a pivotal role in the healthcare industry, especially when precision, professionalism and stress management are seen as key elements for any practice. A well-designed healthcare practice is a place to be enjoyed, a place that patients will want to come back to and a special place for staff to work at. Simple design factors like a splash of colour, natural sunlight and furniture changes can change the whole dynamic of your practice. Important elements of a successful practice include the aesthetic design, quality decor that will stand the test of time and practicality – it is a workplace after all, the design should make the lives of staff and patients easier.

As designers who strive to “get it right,” Perfect Practice say clients have said their investment in design has allowed their practice to blossom. Every client starts with a dream whether they are a small one-chair practice or a large medical centre. Rarely are these dreams ever the same but the end goal is always to create an ideal work environment. Clients who have redesigned their practices have noted greater pleasure in their work, increase in treatment acceptance, higher level of function from staff, ability to attract better staff and increase in their bottom line.

Your practice design not only has an impact on your work cycle but also on the experience of patients who step into your practice. First impressions are important to any business, especially where services are provided. Healthcare environments should make patients feel at ease when being treated – waiting rooms and reception areas that are well-designed could make a difference to your practice.

A good practice design requires not only a focus on detail but also sufficient vision of the bigger picture of the overall project and business plan. The bigger vision is sometimes lost in the details and the new fit-out doesn’t become a rewarding experience in the short or long term.

Not allowing enough design time can be detrimental to a project, which doesn’t allow good decision making for all parties involved thus and product is compromised for quality & good design. When designing a healthcare environment – Perfect Practice have created over 600 – the right balance between function and aesthetics is what ensures a successful practice. How we enter a practice, navigate our way through and travel between public, clinical and private areas, all determine the success of a developed plan.

Creating successful circulation and optimum area relationships, while at the same time being conscious of visual emphasis and human energy flows, is grist for the mill for good designers. Throw in the added ingredients of aspect, natural light and compliance with statutory building code requirements and you have the raw ingredients ready to start cooking.

So why are the aesthetics of a healthcare practice important? What we feel when we enter, wait for treatment, or work in a practice has significant effect on our psychological and physiological response. It is the aesthetics that can tell the patient and the staff how much the practitioners care about their work and their patients. The aesthetics of a practice can signal to the waiting patient that they are in the right place for their treatment.

The biggest marketing asset to any healthcare business is its environment and the people who work in it. The way that a patient feels at the beginning, during and after a consultation period is paramount to the business’ marketing efforts. The entire experience will determine the success of that healthcare environment. It is like a web site that is easy to navigate, informative and looks well designed… a well-designed healthcare practice works in the same way. If it has good workflow, function and is well finished, you are more likely to come back to that practice. It is the ultimate musical experience when all the elements of a fit-out sing together in harmony.

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