A new look at physicians' workspaces.
Discussion about healthcare design is going from focusing strictly on the patient experience and workflow improvements to physicians' workspaces. As with corporate workspaces, these spaces are adapting to a more mobile, technology-enabled workforce.
Rebecca Sanders, a healthcare planner at HGA Architects and Engineers (Minneapolis), notes the evolution of the physicians' workspace in terms of location, size, and design.
"With the movement toward less space, the traditional physicians' office has evolved from a private, closed-door space with a combined exam room to a more open and flexible workspace that focuses on collaboration and shared resources between caregivers," she says.
As with corporate settings, a clinic may have no privately assigned office or workspace--rather, it may have hoteling spaces or free addresses that doctors use as needed for the day. A physician splitting time between several clinics may touch down at an open-plan dictation station to update patient files after an exam.
Attitudes toward these new workspaces can be generational, with newer physicians who more readily adapt to shared spaces and established doctors who prefer private spaces. "Younger doctors tend to be more connected to technology, less reliant on private offices, and more focused on collaborative spaces," Sanders says.
A common concern among all physicians is a lack of personal privacy and a place to keep personal items such as diplomas, family pictures, books--essentially, a space to call one's own. Clinic design is responding with designated phone rooms, quiet rooms, and physicians' lounges, as the overall workspace continues to evolve toward open, flexible plans.
"Telemedicine and new communication tools are promoting mobile exams and new ways to approach the traditional clinic building," Sanders says. "Technology, changing demographics, and cost will continue to drive healthcare workspace design into the future."-Christine Guzzo Vickery