Furniture designers showcasing at NeoCon, which ends today, say they are breaking norms in the patient exam room. Many showcased new and updated products that fit in with health care’s quest to move from volume to value and from intervention to prevention. Here are a few emerging themes.
Individualized places of care. Instead of stark, colorless palettes, furniture designers have reimagined spaces with warm hues that mimic those seen in a typical home. Representatives at Herman Miller say the switch to a less formal color selection can help to put patients at ease, thereby improving their perception of care.
Equal integration. As physicians help their patients move along the health care spectrum — from illness to wellness to well-being — proactively partnering with patients and their caregivers grows more important. Traditional exam rooms tend to have furniture at varying heights, which can inhibit natural conversation. The reimagined exam rooms on display at NeoCon have patient recliners that sit on the same plane as the physician’s workstation and seating for caregivers and family members. This introduces what Steelcase refers to as an “egalitarian” view where everyone feels equal even if their functions vary.
Information on display. Knowing where to place a laptop or desktop in the patient room may seem like a simple thing, but one doctor notes that it used to be a major pain point for her when conducting exams. Steelcase demonstrated its Node chair that includes a small table that swivels from left to right and can be turned to face the patient as the doctor discusses diagnoses and next steps. Another option at Herman Miller’s showroom featured screens on the wall so patients and caregivers can both follow along without hovering over one another.
Another trend among the mock exam rooms and furniture found at NeoCon was the concern not only for patients, but for doctors and nurses as well. Patient chairs — such as Nemschoff’s Ava recliner — that are comfortable to sit in, but also easy for clinicians to move around the room is just one example.
With these new products, furniture designers are proving that putting patients first and meeting the needs of the care team can be one and the same.