Recently I’ve been asked to weigh in on a lively discussion of creating a new and revolutionary clinical atmosphere. When have the words “Revolutionary” and “Clinical” ever sat together in the same room?

Think about it. When you have to “go to the doctor”, what would your ideal experience look like?

As a healthcare professional, I definitely have some opinions. Here are my thoughts on creating a healing, encouraging, life-promoting atmosphere.

First, I define or name what I wish to happen or convey. For example, I want my patients to feel at peace and safe to be vulnerable in my clinic.

Prior to beginning my actual assessment with a patient, I tell them my goals for the session, and every subsequent session is that they learn how to live inside their bodies differently and power them much better, and walk away hope-filled. Even if I have some bad news to deliver, I make sure hope is wrapped in there. That is pretty much achieved at each session, and the atmosphere is a huge component. Recently, my new patient (who was my last patient of the day) so enjoyed the experience and was reluctant to leave, that she asked jokingly, “Do you serve dinner?”

THAT is what you want in a clinic setting.

Components:

  1. Open and bright, with beauty and warmth
  2. A View is incredibly important, both interiorly and exteriorly. I want a warm and inviting interior, with sounds that are soothing and relaxing or engaging and somewhat energizing. Windows are picture frames to the beauty of the outdoors, so bring the exterior inside. If a clinic is at ground level, it would be ideal to have gardens in place around the exterior, and perhaps atrium(s) space inside. Water features can help as well. Nature is healing for us all, both clinicians and patients.
  3. Most of us hate being in a sterile clinical atmosphere. I was so grateful for the view I had from my hospital room this past April, and I cherish the views that I have in my present office. I don’t doubt they have helped feed my soul and prevent me from burning out. The interior/exterior beauty is as much for the clinicians as it is for the patients.

I asked my husband and here is what he came up with:

“In architecture and design, everything that is experienced sends a message to the people who work in the environment (the medical professionals) and to the people who visit (the patients and their family/friends).  Even though the visual impact is the most obvious, other senses will modify the perception of the visual experience and will enhance or degrade the visual experience. Sounds, scents, textures, and tastes will all contribute to or interfere with the healing progress.

When people need a doctor they are often overwhelmed with what they do not know. Reducing that anxiety will enhance their healing. So, the environment should:

  1. Reflect on a place where people are most comfortable, their own home.  Clinical sterility is to be avoided at all costs.
  2. Furniture should be selected in partnership with a physical therapist and not just a purchasing agent looking for the best deal. This ensures that the furniture is comfortable and encourages healthy posture.
  3. There should be lots of warm natural light in each area and room.
  4. There should be peaceful instrumental music filling the air, though at a lower volume in the exam rooms than in the general open areas.
  5. The scent of essential oils has a beneficial effect on people all by themselves, so the diffusion of subtle therapeutic scents adds to the beneficial impact of the environment.
  6. Make room for drink stations around the facility (coffee, tea, and water, nothing else).  Staying hydrated is an important element in maintaining good health.
  7. Make room for an employee workout room(s). Be an example to the patients coming in that exercise is an important element for good health.  That way workers do not have to join a gym and go there before work or after work (a nice worker benefit).
  8. Because prayer has been shown to be greatly beneficial in healing, a prayer chapel for workers, patients and friends and family should be available. I know I would want my doctor to pray for direction in treating me.
  9. Nature is healing, so the presence of garden areas and live plants, whether inside or viewable from the inside, add to a positive healing experience.

These features will enhance the experience of the workers and their patients, which will, in turn, enhance their work experience and improve patient outcomes.”

Not bad, eh?

How about you? What do you look for? Or if you could wave a magic wand, what would or should a clinic look like?