Balancing Aesthetics & Functionality in Healthcare Design
There are two key components when it comes to the design of your healthcare clinic: aesthetics and functionality. There is often the temptation to only consider functionality in the design process, risking a one-dimensional, overly clinical practice. Swing the other way and focus too much on style and aesthetics, and your space may end up being impractical and not able to meet your patients’ needs.
Strike the perfect balance however and you can be assured of an efficient practice, positive patient experience and ultimately, delivery of better care.
Functionality in healthcare design
The starting point in healthcare design should focus on the function and flow of your practice. If your practice doesn’t function efficiently or effectively, this will impact howwellyour staff can perform their jobs and the quality of the care you provide to your patients.
There are four key elements you need to consider when it comes to designing for functionality:
Layout – fitting in all the rooms you need with the appropriate space takes considerable time and expertise. Rooms need to be the right size to deliver comfort for patients, as well as a workable space for your staff, all the while ensuring that there is sufficient space in your clinic for back-office functions such as storage and staff amenities.
Flow – how easily your staff and patients can move from one space to the next can have a profound impact on all areas of your practice. Design your space to support unilateral “traffic” flow, and you’ll achieve significant efficiencies in the delivery of the care you provide.
Accessibility – considering all patients that may access your healthcare practice is another important element when it comes to functionality. As well as meeting legislated disability access standards, your healthcare fitout design should also meet the needs of patients who may have poor mobility, low vision or additional support requirements.Wide corridors and doorways, different levels at your reception desks and seamless flooring can all help to make your practice more functional and welcoming to your entire patient base.
Material selection – choosing the most appropriate materials for your practice, whether they be flooring, wall coverings or furniture, will also help achieve maximum functionality. Selecting materials that are durable and offer appropriate infection control will help your practice function effectively from the day it opens to many years down the track.
Aesthetics in healthcare design
Once the functional elements of your healthcare fitout have been designed, the next step is to start thinking about how you can make your clinic more visually appealing. Aesthetics are essential in creating a welcoming, calming and comfortable environment that can help put patients at ease and encourage them to keep coming back. How your practice looks also reflects the quality of your care, as well as reinforcing your brand personality.
There are a number of ways you can achieve an aesthetically pleasing practice without sacrificing functionality, including:
Designing functional elements to be more visually pleasing. Furniture, storage, lighting and flooring are all required to ensure your practice runs efficiently and effectively, but that doesn’t mean they need to look clinical. Consider calming colours, natural lighting and a mix of textures when it comes to material selections.
Incorporating bold design features. Include something a little “extra” as a point of interest for your patients, and a nice distraction while attending their appointment. This could be in the form of artwork, panelling or feature greenery.
Making your patients feel at home. Interior design elements that make your clinic look and feel more familiar can help to counter the feelings of anxiety and discomfort sometimes associated with visiting a doctor, vet or dentist. Adding cosy furniture and homely furnishings such as mirrors, vases or greenery can help to create a nice ambience while patients are in your clinic.
Expert healthcare design advice
Every healthcare practice is different, so it’s important to get specialist advice when it comes to balancing aesthetics and functionality in the design of your medical, dental or veterinary clinic.
Elite’s in-house design team have extensive experience in in healthcare fitouts of all shapes and sizes and will work collaboratively with you to design your clinic to suit your space and your needs.