Depending on the nature of the visit, the waiting room could be where a patient spends the bulk of his or her time at a medical appointment. Although many health systems work hard to shorten those waiting times, making sure the patient is as relaxed and comfortable as possible while they wait also should be a priority.

In “Designing hospital public spaces” in the November issue of Health Facilities Management, Steve Cohen, corporate vice president of sales and marketing at CFGroup says, “for health care facilities in general today, the expectations are different than they once were.” Health care consumers are growing ever more discerning and, if designed thoughtfully, Cohen says that public spaces can help health care organizations to articulate their core values.

San Francisco-based Dignity Health recently embarked on a $220 million multiphase improvement project that will touch every one of its 39 hospitals in some fashion. With “human kindness” as its theme, the system gathered feedback from patients and families and took that information to make changes throughout its facilities, including waiting rooms, main lobbies, parking structures, gardens and other common areas.

Lloyd H. Dean, president and CEO of Dignity Health, says the focus is to improve the entire patient experience. “From the moment patients arrive, to their departure, every aspect of their journey of care with us should be grounded in healing for both them and their families,” he says.

Although core values will differ from system to system, a welcoming environment that makes patients and guests feel comfortable should always be a guiding design principle.


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