Design for Waiting Areas

Contributed by Hank Hancock
July 25, 2017

Patient waiting times seem to be an endemic problem in U.S. healthcare, but until we can figure out a way to do away with wait-times entirely — it really can be done — you can at least improve conditions through good design.

It turns out that patient (dis)satisfaction depends more on perceived waiting times than actual waiting times. And a fantastic way to keep a patient’s attention from the ticking clock?

You guessed it: positive distraction! That’s our stock in trade.

While we’re thinking of it, here’s another brief discussion of hospital lobbies (taking the word “waiting” completely out of these spaces) in favor of all the other activities patients and staff can engage in: learning, preparing, relaxing, taking solace. One designer emphasizes the patient experience this way:

The whole notion of arrival – finding where they’re supposed to go, the appearance of the [destination] – all of it can e quite impactful on the patient’s perception of their level of care.

This story covers traffic, seating, and patient control, along with other strategies. The recommendation for artwork is that it support a hospitality-style experience, adding a “human touch” to the environment.