Unique Clinic Designs Around the World


How will the clinic of future look like? How can we unlock the potential of human-centred design to create safe, patient-friendly boutique clinics? Team Healthcare Executive finds out.


Let’s face it. Healthcare facilities don’t fare well on the popularity chart. You certainly don’t know how many patient-friendly hospitals or clinics there are and this category of buildings isn’t the typical model for glossy photography either. A patient would rather be at a mall or enjoy a dinner with family at home than at a hospital. And as we all know, a patient visits a hospital during his or a family member’s emergency. But we need comfortable and healing spaces. Several doctor-entrepreneurs have understood this.

“A good clinic should make use of natural light, open spaces, bright walls and good flooring. When we have great architects, it’s a terrible thing  to be depending solely on traditional designs,” Omana Rajan, a doctor-entrepreneur laments.

“Imagine a clinic that took design as seriously as a company like Apple. Instead design is often an afterthought for several physicians. Many patients struggle with old websites, long waiting lines, and uncomfortable seating in clinics,” she adds.

Luckily, healthcare landscape is slowly changing and new users and physicians like Rajan are emerging every day. Their preferences are affecting broader landscape of healthcare design. In fact, studies had showed that amenities are a large factor in driving traffic to hospitals than clinical quality. Clearly, healthcare design teams and managements cannot afford to be in touch with this group.

For instance, a construction survey conducted in the US recently says that hospitals are listening to patients more closely than ever when it comes to how facilities are designed.

For example, out of the 200 hospitals surveyed, not even one opined that patient satisfaction is not important for design. The survey was undertaken to learn about the latest trends in hospital construction. Three thousand one hundred and twenty five hospitals were chosen for this survey.

image 2.png

Eighty-six percent of hospitals responding to the survey said that patient satisfaction is “very important,” while 12 percent said patient satisfaction is “somewhat important” to the design process.  The survey also found that 79 percent of hospitals say patients offer feedback prior to design development. It also threw up some interesting facts. It revealed that 66 percent of participants said that patients offered feedback as designs were being developed and that 26 percent give patients the opportunity to test live mock-ups of proposed designs. It also said that 8 percent even include patients in the approval of a hospital’s final design.

But what about functionality? According to International Interior Design Association, creating a healthcare space that fosters community was evident last year. For instance, a clinic designed for patients with dementia, houses a “learning space” in the common area, so patients can spend time with their families, states their website.

Earlier the focus used to be more on patients, but managements are realizing that they are not catering for just the patients-they’re catering for the patient’s entire family.  The logic behind this principle is simple. When someone falls sick, it affects the entire family.

Design will alter the clinic only to the extent you limit your imagination. You just need to understand the nature of the clinic and you can use the space as creatively as you want, say experts.

Among the complications surrounding designing a clinic is the crucial question of what kind of clinic does the patient want? Anything that takes care of patient won’t do.

Take the case of The Maternity Waiting Village at the Kasungu district hospital in central Malawi. It emulates the communal spaces of traditional villages to attract patients to the healthcare facility. Instead of an open ward, the village comprises smaller rooms and intimate outdoor spaces, so that patients can live in an environment similar to that of their own villages.

And the switch to design thinking in healthcare shouldn’t be difficult as it’s what we have been doing for all the other sectors. In fact, CEOs like Vishal Sikka and Indira Nooyi have been batting for design thinking in their respective industries.  The government’s smart city initiative is also an example of how even cities are becoming more people-centric.

Setting up clinics in retail spaces is yet another trend which is picking up in the sector. The convenience of taking a mammogram at a department store is something which created considerable buzz in 2014.

Is it possible to provide privacy for patients in public spaces of the hospitals? This was the problem that the designers of Memorial Sloan Kettering’s new cancer center set out to solve, when they closely monitored emotions of patients coming to the hospital. For instance, most of the emotional moments happen in the doctors’ consulting rooms.  The designers have provided exit options for families, without going back to the waiting room, in case they get a bad news.

For most of the Indian hospitals, their tryst with design pretty much ends with the project meetings with a design team. But luckily for several others, it is different.

For many design also has to balance safety and functionality of the space with the welfare of its users. The key to human-centred design is asking the right set of questions to right people. Interestingly, there have also been instances, where managements took inputs from patients. One of the most important aspects of the design of Erlanger Health System’s new children’s hospital is its reliance on the expertise of children itself. The integration with needs of children is an interesting angle of the design.

In giving its clinics a makeover, the Indian healthcare can learn a lot from projects in developed countries that make optimal utilization of real estate.

So, how can you design a small clinic to be flexible and useful well in to the future? How can you do more with less? Answering these questions and more, the cover story of this issue explains how hospitals can be built to increase patient safety and reduce waiting times while eliminating waste, towering costs and easing healthcare’s most persistent problems.

image 3.png

Idea/Vision behind the Design: Improve quality and lower cost

Distinct Features: The components of the clinic are fairly simple: Colourful themed paediatric exam rooms, a comfortable lobby and seating designed to accommodate large groups of family members. But attaining the invigorating environment factor in a paediatric is much more complicated. When the right elements are added together, magic happens.  The clinic pairs bookshelves with a waiting room kitchen and a toy forest with life size trees.  The combination is both creative and original.

Why it is HE’s pick for Creativity: You don’t need to splurge to transform your clinic in to a space which patients love. The patient-centred design of the clinic is the classic example.  The goal of the design is to help uninsured patients of LA County, relax and forget about their anxieties when they visit the clinic. Along with a waiting room kitchen where staff members offer free cooking demonstrations, the clinic has shelves of books for kids to take home after each visit.

image 4.jpg

Life in the city is full of hustle and bustle, loud honking, choc-o-bloc traffic and air pollution. For those who love nature, the toy forest will transport them to great outdoors. It has life size trees made of steel and covered with synthetic bark and painted to appear like real trees.

The designers have also opted for couches instead of hard-backed chairs so sick kids could nuzzle up against their parents. Further, they also built extra-large exam rooms after noticing that families often visit the clinic in big groups.

The clinic also promises to encourage staff interaction by abandoning separate rooms for doctors and nurses, and instead one big room in the back for all doctors.


image 5.png

Idea/Vision behind the Clinic: Hospitals are often considered as ugliest buildings in any locality. The brief given to the design team was to focuses on comfort and privacy needs of patients, who often travel hundreds of kilometres to reach the hospital.

Distinct Features: The design is underpinned by the idea that nature and natural light will aid the healing process.

Rather than re-creating traditional designs , this clinic is composed of bright color highlights, sweeping curves, and atypical geometries. The glowing colored canopies, for example, have been described as ribbons, balloons, lollipops, and rainbow clouds.  The entire space is fully interpretable and thus caters to a range of ages, backgrounds, and interests.

Why is it HE’s pick for Creativity: Healthcare facilities have always been considered as a place of apprehension, pressure and traumatic experience for the patients.The impression the clinic leaves on the patient often leaves a huge impact on the patient. The designers of the clinic have focused on emotionally supportive and functionally efficient spaces.

image 6.jpg

In order to make the hospital experience similar to that of a home experience, the project team has created an open infusion area. It is a clinical zone, which consists of 12 infusion stations, and defined by low, curving walls.

This space enables children to feel free to play and interact during the long hours in the clinic. This uncommon approach to infusion treatments served as direction and inspiration for the design team.

Specific attention is also paid to open spaces and natural lighting. Similarly, balancing operational efficiency with design has also been highlighted in the design.  Healthcare works as an eco-system and all elements are inter-linked to the patient. So, the infusion stations are organized under a canopy of colorful rings that shelter individual patients while still connecting them and their families to their clinic community.

Patients often spend very little time with doctors and the rest is spent at waiting rooms and labs. Empowering the patient is therefore an extremely important aspect of a healthcare design.

At the clinic, varied geometries offer small groupings and pairings of stations. Informal play zones offer views to Boston. Similarly, additional private and negative-pressure rooms compose roughly one-third of the infusion spaces, thus providing higher-level-care infusion options with additional comforts and privacy.

image 7.png

Idea/Vision behind the Design: Deliver quality health care services and convenience to Walmart customers.

Distinct Features: Highly Accessible and visible entrances, including separate exterior entrances (most Clinics), welcoming reception desk, bright, comfortable waiting area, strategic locations within Walmart, modern and accessible rooms, digital media programs and advertising, beautiful clinic wall art, customized reception signage, ergonomically optimized working spaces, barrier-free access including wide hallways, exam rooms and no steps or stairs.

Why is it HE’s pick for creativity: You can get your manicure done, finish grocery shopping and have that recurring head ache examined- all in the same place you buy Milk and Eggs. It’s an example of a super market becoming a one-stop shop.

image 8.jpg

Interestingly, the idea was unsuccessfully pursued by a Kerala healthcare chain in Mumbai. The idea is to make life more convenient for the customers.

Clearly, patients also like the fact that these clinics accept walk-in patients and are located in clean, well-run facilities.

Wal-Mart began adding the clinics three years ago and now has 19 across the country. But it plans to pick up the pace with plans to add 13 more this year, mainly in the larger supercentres where it sells fresh food as well as general merchandise.

Clinics in retail settings are similar to doctor’s offices anywhere in some respects.They bill OHIP for their services and pay their administrative and other expenses out of the billings.

But in other ways they’re quite different. Clinics in retail settings see a lot more “walk-in” patients than a typical family physician’s practice. And they tend to be run by third party professional management firm that buys the equipment, hires the administrative staff and oversees the billing.

These clinics are specifically designed with patient’s specific needs in minds and like Mayo Clinic’s Jack and Jill rooms offer a soothing experience.

image 9.png

Idea/Vision behind the design: Patient-friendly and operationally efficient clinic, which combines design with community engagement.

Distinct Features: Pink exterior is an important Warren Clinic innovation. In fact it is popularly known as the pink hospital in the neighbourhood. To increase brand recognition, CallisonRTKL’s design team incorporated this already established trademark when designing each of the new clinics. At the front exterior of each clinic, a glass wall infused with varying pink tones supports the pink theme. This feature wall creates a visual icon to the public and draws patients through the door. Upholding the pink theme in its clinics also reinforces its legacy and its connection to the community it serves.

image 10.png

Why is it HE’s pick for creativity: What do patients really want from their clinical experience?  They are attracted by convenience, affordability and reputation. Small waiting lines, patient/provider relationships, follow-up care, cleanliness/hygiene, care coordination, streamlined registration, wifi-access often retain them. The design elements of Warren clinic are chosen to create a pleasant welcoming environment for patients as well as staff.

The moment the patient steps in the facility, he is greeted by “Light from Above” established by utilizing natural light as a primary driver for the interior design. The clinic is more like a wellness destination with large windows and skylights lining hallways, patient exam room waiting areas.

In order to target millenials and boomers, who value experience a lot, the clinic provides visual access to  exterior gardens, as well as natural light for the public and staff, allowing every occupied room of the clinic access to daylight.

Clinics are often the first point of contact between a patient and a healthcare system. Similarly, patients also like to feel that they are a priority for the hospital management.  The clinic has added several elements like views to landscaping and water features, South Memorial’s view to a courtyard with gardens and a seating area, a pond with a water fountain, and an open field to provide patients a more enjoyable experience within the clinic.


The designers have also been influenced by companies like Apple and Walt Disney. An ambulatory care centre is often not considered as a hospital, but one of the ways to increase the community presence of a brand.

To enhance these factors, the new Warren Clinic locations were strategically placed on streets centrally located in areas with plenty of drive-by traffic. Because the sites are easily accessible from busy streets and are clearly visible, this adds additional convenience for patients and the public.

Whether you decide to visit your neighbourhood polyclinic or visit the hospital, or use internet depends on whether they make us feel safe. Warren clinic has a clear separation between patient-facing and other tasks.

The clinic also has a distinct separation between patient-facing and off-stage tasks.

Loyal customers often come from good design and service operation. The traditional design of an Indian clinic consists of series of exam rooms, doctor’s office and also a central space, which contains medicine and other surgical equipments. This design often creates traffic especially on week-ends. For instance, it’s common to find patients waiting outside or even pregnant mothers jostling for space inside a gynaecologist’s clinic on a busy day.

image 11.jpg

However, Warren Clinic has created a system that is responsive to user’s needs.  The clinic provides an integrated, multimodal experience, where patients have separate corridors to approach exam rooms, which in-turn provides them with a quieter more private waiting room. Similarly, exam rooms are built around zones where physicians and nurses collaborate together and work more efficiently.

Interestingly, this method was implemented by Walt Disney World into its operations to separate the staff’s behind-the-scenes work from the customer experience.

Similarly, a patient’s experience in a clinic can be influenced by certain elements of a staff’s behind-the-scenes work. For instance, the sight of a an assistant doctor prepping for an injection is often not a great experience for another patient.

This effective customer experience approach provides the patient with a more positive experience within the clinics.

image 12.png

Idea and Vision behind the design: It’s perhaps too easy to dismiss dental   care as secondary to other health issues. However, Luzern clinic shows how much design can do for patients.

Distinct Features: The current design includes atmospheric programming, the reinterpretation of the elements and composition of individual activities that characterize a visit to a dentist. Clearly, a vast array of materials and finishes defines the design scheme of the clinic.

Art in its myriad form is used to enhance the experience of the patients in the clinic. An inviting mix of old and new, the clinic offers options of entertainment activities to patients. Simplicity is also key to designing continuous flow of spaces of the project, with a special focus to balance the work environment needed for dental work with a calm environment for patients.

The clinic is particularly welcoming with its classic and unconventional elements that are surprising at first sight. For example, patients are welcomed in the cozy atmosphere of a club lounge with library, where they can spend their time with an iPad or a book.

The “dentaliser” is a central area with a white and shiny interior. This works as a neutralizing space around which the different rooms and activities (x-rays, office, bathroom, etc.) are provided.

Why is it HE’s pick for creativity: Sometimes a simple coffee corner and comfortable seating can drastically transform a cold and scary place.

The Dental Club does not look like a normal dental surgery. In place of sterile furnishings, the architectural firm OOS has created a welcoming space with painted walls, coloured furniture and design elements not usually expected in a medical environment.

The waiting room has been transformed into a lounge with bright pink seating and a library of books and iPads. Mindful of how nerve-wracking dental appointments can be, OOS designed the hallway as a neutralising zone, painted white for greater serenity. The examination room is enlivened with ceiling murals to distract patients while their teeth are checked. n a bid to make a trip to the dentist (mildly) more pleasurable, OOS has realized a clinic that’s three worlds in one.

image 13.png

The plush lounge-cum-library of  Dental Club in Lucerne, Switzerland is a luxe space, defined by rich greens offset with warmer hues. Visitors can browse a book or fiddle around on an iPad until the clock strikes appointment time.

To further integrate volume in to the landscape, architects have added a plush lounge, white ‘dentaliser’, a central zone beyond the reception desk. The designers have termed it as a ‘neutralizing space around which the various rooms and activities – such as X-ray, office, bathroom and so on – are arranged’.

Design and innovation is not just  a buzz word for the team, instead it is used to provide human centred experience to the patients. Additionally, the lower half of the room is treated much like any typical surgery, while the ceiling – where the patient spends most of his time looking – is a map of oceans and islands. It’s meant to be a distraction, but it might feel more like a tease.

image 14.png

Idea and Vision Behind the Design: Many argue that a mental health facility should follow the design of a traditional model. But MD.net is determined to prove nay sayers wrong. In the deluge of traditional buildings, the management invested in a facility that provides patients with a different experience. While no one likes to crave for the unprepared but human race is programmed to crave the unexpected. The design of MD.net clinic embraces this thinking.

Distinct Features: The interior design is built around the element of surprise, for which many yearn.  It’s about exclusivity, feeling special and important even.

image 15.png

For instance, the ‘doors’ that line the walls of the clinic do not open, and ‘ordinary’ parts of the walls open up into new spaces.

The consultation rooms are entered by sliding the bookshelves sideways. The door at the end of the hallway opens onto a window; the amount of light in the hallway is controlled by opening and closing the door.

Of course, the same principle works for secret events and unexpected stunts. Anyone who has ever attended a flash mob or a spontaneous live stunt, is likely to have later bragged about their unique experience.

Why is it HE’s pick for Creativity: Patients often get quickly bored with formulaic designs. Surprise and delight have always been at the heart of great designs from its inception.

The most noticeable feature of the clinic is the non–traditional design elements. The building has attracted a mixed opinion from critics. It is also a clear demonstration of the possibility of achieving impressive effects with modest means. It’s a defiant break from the typical configuration of a mental health clinic, which offers standard consultations as well as corporate consultations for patients.

Visiting a mental health clinic is much more stressful for the patient as well as his/her family.

Featuring sliding bookcases, doors embedded into the walls, a light system dependent on the interactivity of the office space inside and homier touches like framed mirrors and deer antlers, the clinic’s interior refutes the notion that psychiatric wards must be typified by sterile white walls.

image 16.png

Idea/Vision behind the design: The brief was to create a layout, atmosphere and activities to create a serene environment. It was deliberately designed as a calming space, in a place where parents, as well as children, are often upset. The classroom lay out is minimal rather than a space filled with stuffed toys.

Design has a huge impact on young children’s behaviour. The intent of the team was to create a visually serene environment, including getting rid of jarring toys. There is always a matter of balancing the needs of the family. The child friendly design of the clinic focuses on the needs of both children as well as parents.

Distinct Features: A visit to a healthcare facility can be an intimidating or frightening experience for the child. According to a World Health Organisation (WHO) study entitled Care of Children in Hospital, “there is a clear lack of awareness in a surprisingly large number of hospitals of the special need of not only to cater for children’s technical, medical and nursing needs, but also to minimize the adverse effects of being separated from their families and exposed to frightening experiences that are all too often magnified by the child’s lack of forewarning”.

lourish Paediatrics has spotted a gap in the paediatrics market.  While rival clinics adopt replicas of the same design, the clinic uses principles of efficiency in its blue print. The core element of the design is a ply-wood module placed in the centre of the clinic.

Who better to identify the missing space, healthy food and public spaces in a hospital than a patient? In fact the cupboards and shelves, carved in to these walls.

Although the outer surface of the case is made of plywood, the core, includes one room, features white walls and a glass ceiling. It’s the several layers of the design that gives the clinic its antique feel. The designers also couldn’t resist adding a green panel between the two walls.

The tightness of the clinic is mitigated by doors which open in to Dr Hallam’s consultation area.

Why is it HE’s pick for creativity: The warmth in the clinic comes from the single volume interior. Even though it’s narrow, it still comprises of a reception, waiting, consultation room, kitchenette and a breast-feeding area. The clinic mixes practical features with free standing pieces with open and enclosed storage.

It is a well known fact that colours have an impact on mood. Blue for example is thought to induce calm and serenity. The designers have carefully chosen colours for the clinic. Further, a restrained material palette and detailing, strengthens design.

A person’s surroundings affect their mood in different ways. In fact, it was Churchill who said “we shape our buildings: there after they shape us.”

image 17.png

Good design can attract attention, talent and design. Comfortable seating is also another key feature of the design.  Waiting when you’re sick is bad enough and waiting in a bad chair makes it even worse. Although there are armchairs at reception, there’s also built-in banquette seating within the central form.

Similarly token system also makes a patients tied to a specific spot, say experts. Similarly, taking a number also makes it tougher for the patients, as the token system is often impersonal.  The reception area of the clinic is designed in to spaces where patients with similar conditions can chat.

A primary care physician often meets hundreds of patients in a day and need to work very efficiently to meet his goals. They need to figure out how to see patients in novel and different ways. The physical space of the clinic supports this need.

I am text block. Click edit button to change this text. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

image 18.png

Idea and Vision behind the Design: A doctor’s office is no longer a trunk of patients waiting to meet him. In fact, the design is meant to create the feeling of relaxation and warmth to lessen visitor’s stress from spending time in the small space with strangers and make it feel ordinary to go to clinic by routine.

Distinct Features: Seating can often reduce patient’s anxiety in a waiting room. The seating in the waiting area called tooth unit is designed to be the main character of this dental clinic. They are 45x45x45cm cubes enveloped with white leather and mixed in 2 different shades of white.

People like privacy. However, if you are with a big family, the light weight seats make it easy to be flipped or moved around.  It creates one’s own seating space as one like such as private seating or casual bed.

Besides, the whole set could be moved aside to create an opening plan for a small event or internal seminar, and the cleaning purpose as well.

Why is it HE’s pick for creativity: The design is patient-oriented and tenaciously results oriented. Set in a futuristic style, the facility looks more like a spa than anything else. The white curtains, open treatment area, and lightning techniques add to the overall unconventional look of the clinic.

There has already been research on how to design hospitals and now universities and researchers are focusing on how to apply these principles to make doctor’s office better and more efficient.

image 19.png

In fact, clinics like Dental spa are taking design cues from natural settings. In fact, it’s all about patient walking through different mazes.

The white curtains create the sensation of comfort for the patients, and could be easily removed for cleaning. They can be altered in terms of shades, quality, or opacity when interior mood needed to be changed. The lone part in this clinic that is detached by the brick walls is the X-ray spot, to protect other areas from the radiation, and is carefully guarded about the measures and quality.

Likewise, the colour format and lighting design are based on its corporate identity. Most areas are decorated in bright white and merely use orange to highlight some significant components like the front label or dental chairs. In the same way, the lighting design helps defining the waiting and treatment area by using cool white and warm white light respectively.

image 20.png

Idea/Vision behind the design: Simple and Fresh

Distinct Features: The Yokoi Dental Clinic is a tiny cubic structure that features a white interior and exterior, giving it a simplistic and pristine aesthetic that will take a bit of anxiety out of the dental visit experience. The design is simple and clean-a white box with assorted square windows to capture people’s attention.

Why it is HE’s pick for Creativity: A patient spends close to 20 minutes in the waiting room to see a doctor, according to the data from the doctor rating site Vitals.com.  While some clinics offer patients I-pads to do screening questionnaire, the Japanese clinic use skylights which gives the patient the impression of being in a more spacious rooms.


image 21.png

Another feature that the design team has changed is the use of lights in the consultation room. In order to make patients feel more relaxed, they have embedded lights in to the beam structures. It also provides direct functional lighting for dentists, as well as diffuse light in to the wider room to brighten the space around the beam.

The clinic also provides the patients a notion of perceived control through its ultramodern design. The clinic is a tiny cubic structure that features a white interior and exterior, giving it a simplistic and pristine aesthetic that will take a bit of anxiety out of the dental visit experience.

It doesn’t matter the physicians have thought about the patients. The arrival, reception, waiting, the care with those are implemented, says something about the clinic.

Small things like a prominently lit exterior, randomly placed windows that offer a bright view into the relaxing space, often make a big impact. Similarly, illumination implanted into beam formations softens the overpoweringly bright white space. The wooden beams match similarly toned seating that gives the space a warm feel. Of course, some of these features are expensive and will take a few years to become main stream.

For those who can’t take sterile environment of a dental clinic, this one is a welcome change.

image 22.png

Idea/Vision behind the design: SuperiorHealth Medical Group consulted  Horty Elving to replace an aging clinic facility with a more spacious, advanced primary care clinic

Distinct Features: Horty Elving incorporated the heritage of Proctor into the design through railroad imagery carried throughout the facility. This project is a more advanced clinical facility housed consisting of 10,000 sf. Working closely with clinic staff and physicians, a unique design is created for small clinic operations. By linking together admitting and reception to the nurse stations, efficient access to patient information is enhanced.

Why is it HE’s pick for creativity: Everything around us is a landscape, things we are surrounded by-the way light falls, the distance that we are viewing the object from. The reason the team has designed the clinic to begin with shorter corridors is to let people experience landscapes for themselves.  Patients can experience different perspectives inside the clinic and see how elements like buildings, trees, sky etc talk to each other. It’s always around us, but we don’t pay attention.

image 23.png

A clinic is like an organism and the swift movement of patients and staffs is the oxygen that sustains its well being. When this circulation is inhabited, it significantly compromises the quality of care. This is why patients are led through shorter corridors in the clinic, which enables better nursing control and high operational efficiency.

Improving patient flow is one way of improving health services. The official website of NHS states that “evidence suggests that enhancing patient flow also increases patient safety and is essential to ensuring that patients receive the right care, in the right place, at the right time, all of the time (reliability). However, it is important that patient flow does not improve at the expense of safety or system reliability.”

Good design reflects patient’s day to day experience.  Designers of a tablet-based application spent weeks with diabetes patients to understand how they manage the condition.

Clearly, the science of clinic design is integrated in Superior Health clinic that follows- day lighting, natural materials, colours of northern Minnesota- everything in the design is woven together to create a calming and relaxed environment. Further, provider offices are grouped at the end of the exam corridors to support team collegiality and staff efficiency.

image 24.jpg

Design thinking and more

Healthcare designers experiment with everything right from spa to retail spaces, even integrating elements from nature. Even studies show that design can make the long wait in the doctor’s waiting rooms more bearable. The great bit about designing that sort of healthcare facilities is that even simple changes can make great difference in patient satisfaction. While there’s a basic framework for each facility-a well comfortable chairs, clear signage, and easy-to-use patient forms- designers often play with in it and create designs differently each time. Here’s what Fuelfor, a Spanish design consultancy recommends for improving waiting rooms of doctors.

Clinics need Right Kind of  Seating

Comfortable seating is a favourite adage among designers. The motto for many-abruptly awakened self-confessed design warriors. If only it were so easy. In fact,   what is comfortable seating for one patient might not be suitable for another person.  Hence, the agency has proposed a modular seating system called Modu that can be adapted to different offices and individuals. Another feature of the seating system is movable arm rests and seating pads with varying amounts of cushioning. It allows people to create their own comfort zones at the clinic. Similarly, displays on the seating also inform patients about their waiting time.

Manage Queues

Managing queue is also another vast topic. Experts point out that waiting to meet a doctor often makes patients feel confined to a particular space. The agency also adds that multiple monitors to display waiting time are essential. While we also need these display monitors, what we also need is a good app, emphasizes the agency. So, patients can download an app, which shows their waiting time using a simple interface. Patients can also use this app to book an appointment with the doctor. Further, it allows them to track medications and help them to navigate the clinic.

Manual Medical Records

The agency also recommends manual records instead of digital ones. They have suggested patients to use paper wallets which they can store easily. At the doctor’s clinic, they fill the form, which consists of simple questions regarding their health parameters. Similarly, the doctor fills out a remember form that includes prescriptions and other healthcare advice.

Healthy Canteen

The agency recommends a vending machine that dispenses healthy food and nutritious snacks, instead of cola and candies.


Doctors’ clinics of the future could even act like chat rooms for patients with similar conditions, which could even act like fitness/wellness centres. Whether it’s classes on stress management or posture improvement,  or even breathing exercises-it will be right for matters of health.

So, it will be no surprise that the reception area of the hospital will be a place which accommodates patients just as beautifully. The space will dish out host activities like yoga as well as discussions for patients with same condition. Usually, the signage of a doctor’s office often reminds that of a bureaucrat- impersonal and official. The agency suggests using welcome boards to introduce doctors on duty (complete with portraits) and share information about health activities and classes, like yoga classes or cooking sessions. Some clinics even run videos about doctors and the team on their TV sets.

Communal space

The changing perspective of patients regarding the utility of a neighborhood clinic is one reason for the rising popularity of design thinking in healthcare. So a doctor’s clinic can also blur in to a wellness centre, a physician’s office can resemble a spa, a reception room can look even surreal. The Spanish agency concludes that communal tables can help reduce patients’ anxiety in a waiting room. Patients and families like privacy. However, if you’re at the doctor’s office with your family, a large table where you can gather and discuss sensitive medical problems makes a lot of sense.