I’ve spent a lot of time in health care facilities including hospitals, doctor’s offices, and labs. Unfortunately, the time spent was not for the purpose of assessing design aesthetic, but as a patron. While meandering drab halls and sitting in stark or mismatched waiting areas I’ve often thought to myself “this could be better”. The debate about the financial status of these facilities and the medical system as a whole can certainly be a complex one and I am not overlooking it. However, I dismiss the argument that nothing can be done.
As most any patient would affirm, there are other places you’d rather be than a doctor’s office. Depending on the severity of the reason for your visit, stress levels and anxiety can be high. I can attest that I was generally stressed to be in an exam-room at our pediatrician earlier this week and I took special notice of the lack of any design aesthetic during this visit. I wasn’t at ease or comfortable and could only assume that the young patients feel the same uneasiness brought on by colors, light, and lack of any visually distracting or engaging decoration.
There’s going to be little debate in saying that design and architecture details go a long way in providing the perception of superior service and quality. An enhanced level of comfort can lead to clients and patients choosing one facility over another. A design influenced facility lends to the effectiveness of the staff whom spend long hours there, often dealing with patients who are there because they were unwell.
There are many studies and articles available examining the effects of color, light, sound, architecture and interior design on human experience.
I took this snapshot with my phone.
I worked it a bit.
There are a few talking points regarding the budget required to produce and maintain this space. Paint and stock art is inexpensive. Having an interior designer put together a complete design package can be an asset and will improve the experience for workers, visitors, and patients. Lighting makes a difference in mood, and waiting areas should be evaluated. Design concepts can be expounded upon endlessly. Let’s start simple. Paint the walls and support the arts with a few original pieces. People will be more comfortable. It’s about the people. It’s about the people who’s prognosis could improve though the comfort of visual stimulation.
Artists and designers can help patients by replacing the commercial/institutional interior with an engaging and soothing experience.