Over time, through the developments in technology and research, medical practices have seen rapid change. You can see this in replacing something as simple as a paper chart with how video calling gives remote access, no matter where the patient is. Does that translate into a need to change the design and space of the practice physically?
The simple answer is yes, a definite yes. Once, patient charts would take up a lot of space and would need enough cabinets. Physicians would need a few exams rooms, a small lab or a processing station, as well as a consultation room. Now it looks like the focus has changed from that to the relationship. Be it with the other physicians as well as the patients. There is a focus on a health system that will integrate to disperse costs for new technology or even additional staff members.
If you’re looking to redesign into having the medical office suites, here are some things you need to think about before getting into that.
It is essential to think about what technology is required and included before designing a new place. This is better than having to redo things at the last minute because of an addition or a change. You may or may not have someone to consult for all IT things, but if you do, it’s best to run your plans through them before you begin building. That way, you know what needs how much space and if it is hazardous to place specific machines too close to each other.
Other technological advancements that you can take advantage of is WiFi. This can improve patient comfort and help if the practice is bustling and the pace of movement is slow.
Need for Space
The need to improve staff efficiency and patient flow and the need to incorporate new technology has caused a change in how practices are designed.
Many medical practitioners don’t necessarily have a specific office dedicated to items like their medical diploma, a human skeleton or any of that. Now, multiple physicians may share one single space to consult patients. A single space consult saves up space for more exam rooms.
Many places choose a second area dedicated to private registration for patients who would prefer that, especially as questions on medical and social histories are asked there.
Large exam rooms
Since there is a more consultative relationship between the physician and the patient today, more patients bring family members. Family members can provide more moral support, advocacy or even help them remember what the doctor has said. This means that there is an increase in how many people need accommodation in a room. Plus medical office suites have space for a computer so the doctor can input and record the necessary information.
This is a sustainable and environmentally friendly way to keep records. As paper charts are no longer in the picture, there is no longer a need for physical rooms for charts and staff.
Cloud-based IT solutions
If the technology, infrastructure, and the size of the infrastructure are kept in mind, there may not be a server room. Or space being taken up by computers, scanners, fax machine, and the like. With a cloud solution, one would only need the internet and devices that can work on WiFi. Cloud solutions save on space for other requirements too.
Phone tree or portal
Many will say that the patient portal has been a game-changer. Before this, you needed staff to answer and return phone calls. Some information could go amiss if this became chaotic. On the other hand, portfolios make it easy for patients to contact their physicians and receive a response that their message was seen.
You could forgo this and stick to phone calls if the size of your practice is small. If you can run it efficiently and well, then there’s no reason to fret. But if you are facing issues, then it’s best to switch to a portal. This helps with the administration and organisation of information and calls too.
Flow of patients
If a practice is well-designed, then there are benefits for patients as well as the physicians and other staff members. As mentioned above, if chat rooms are out of the picture, there’s more space for consultation rooms, waiting rooms or even rooms for check-in and check-out.
If there is a separate room for patient registration, then they are moved to another room – the waiting area – that has space to escort patients that have gone through surgery or family members that have come with the patient. Medical office suites also help the patient’s feel that there is a system and a timely fashion in which they are moved.
Having a computer in each room can help record the patient’s vitals, look at the history, and the medical prescriptions for the doctor’s ease. This can help schedule follow-up appointments and testing, so save the hassle of going to the front desk again.
Before going to an architect, it’s best to get input from different departments. Every staff member needs to be involved in this process, so every opinion is heard. Once they’ve spoken about what’s required and what changes they’d like, you can go about figuring out what’s essential and what can practically be done while keeping the staff and their working in mind. Then you’d need people working on different aspects of the project like the furniture, budget, colour palettes, job timelines or physical layouts of the space to be rebuilt. Then you can go ahead and approach the architect and your designer to create a space that helps everyone. You’re benefiting both your patients as well as the professionals and staff members that work with you.
Once all of that is done, what’s left is the building itself. That way, you’re redesigning medical office suites keeping the needs of the patients as well as the staff in mind, along with the technological advancements that have taken place in the field you’re in.