Facility Environment And Reception Area

The environment of the medical office or clinic contributes almost as much to a patient's well-being as does the medical attention given by the physician and medical assistants. The physical environment can foster a feeling that embraces and welcomes patients or causes them to feel alienated and intimidated. Interior designers and experts in space planning are advising all individuals involved in designing clinics, medical offices, and hospitals that patient comfort must be considered as important as the facility's functional utility and ease of maintenance. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) also must be taken into account when creating any medical office environment, and provisions must be made to accommodate patients who are physically challenged. The creation of a health care facility involves many variables. Some are concrete elements, such as lighting, color choice, and furniture arrangement. Yet others are intangible and are expressed in a receptionist's greeting and attitude toward patients. Together, these elements make an ambulatory setting the kind of environment where patients will feel comfortable and secure.

The Reception Area:
A reception area is just thata place of reception; it should never be thought of as the waiting room. This is the area that can make the patient feel welcome, secure, and comfortable. Adequate and comfortable seating affords patients room to have their own space. Proper seating placement also respects cultural biases. For example, some Americans do not like to be touched by strangers. Middle Eastern and Latin cultures, by contrast, encourage closeness and touching, and individuals from these cultures may cluster themselves close together in the reception area. Current magazines that are appropriate to the clinic clientele, plants, and other features such as a professionally maintained built-in aquarium will help set a welcoming tone. The fabric and texture of draperies, upholstery, and carpet should be pleasing, comfortable, and easy to maintain. It is helpful if there is a place for patients to hang heavy coats or wet umbrellas. Many physicians provide educational materials for patients in the reception area. For example, new parents always appreciate pamphlets related to raising children. It is also appropriate to have available in the reception area a patient information brochure that describes the services of the office, the function of medical staff members, measures to take in case of an emergency, and other issues that patients may need to consider.