What Does A Patient’s Dream Medical Office Look Like?

Have you ever walked into a medical office and thought, if I see one more waterfall or People magazine I am going to scream?

WEGO Health asks for their daily writing challenge “if you could, how would you redesign a medical office?” Day #7.

Lisa Copen

The medical office. The exam room. The hospital. Oh, how we would like to get our decorator’s ideas out at some of those places where we spend so much time. I asked some of you what your dream medical office would look like and some of your answers were the exact opposite of one another. For example, some of you liked the water fountains found in many offices, others of you said you hated those. Maybe you have heard too much water trickling right before painful procedures and its intended calming effect has long since disappeared.

So what would the perfect medical office have? Here are some ideas.

My dream medical office would have. . .

  • Soothing colored walls, many of said you preferred earth tones. Warms colors are best.
  • A pop of color. Although we understand the need to stay neutral with beiges or grays, a few vases or pillows in a color like teal of bright yellow can change with the season and make it feel less cold.
  • Water – fish tanks for kids to watch the fish, water fountain wall displays, photos of the ocean
  • Chairs of varying heights so everyone can get up and down easily.

My dream medical office would have . . .

  • Coffee or tea. My rheumatologist has one of those single-serve coffee makers where you can choose any flavor. Even when others drink it, I love the smell.
  • Water to drink, mints to suck on, small snacks if you are getting an infusion or having blood drawn and need some energy replenished.
  • Music that you don’t really notice, though the hard part is everyone has a preference and somebody is not going to like whatever is playing.
  • A natural scent that keeps it from smelling like an antiseptic, but that also doesn’t interfere with those with chemical sensitivities. (Is there such a thing?)

WHAT DOES A PATIENT'S DREAM MEDICAL OFFICE LOOK LIKE? Patients everywhere may disagree on waterfalls or colors, but we all know we want it to be comfortable and as clean as possible. And a vibrating massage chair and some chocolate wouldn't be bad either. This article shares the wish list of ideas from patients with a chronic illness. #NHBPM @wegohealth @Lisa CopenMy dream medical office would have . . .

  • Magazines – including those that have nothing to do with your health.
  • Hand sanitizer – lots and lots of hand sanitizer. When you must sign in or get coffee, don’t forget to sanitize your hands.
  • Bathrooms that are easily available and accessible.
  • An interactive idea to encourage others. On Pinterest it shares how quotes, scriptures, whatever can be written on a little rock and put not the vase. I think it would be fun to have something like this for patients to do when they came and have a display vase of patients’ favorites quotes.

My perfect medical office would have. . .

  • A small TV with children’s videos that kids can watch (and limited volume!)
  • Tissues! Lots of boxes of tissues!
  • Plants, I love how plants keep it cozy, yet still professional and it is supposed to make us believe if the doctor can keep a plant alive, he can help us too (Erma Bombeck once warned us about going to a doctor who had dead plants–not a good sign.)
  • Decor that represents the doctors interests. My doctor of internal medicine has shelving filled with antique medical equipment, old medicine bottles and such. I would rather see pictures of bicycles if my doctor cycles, rather than more of those generic office art. I go to a group of surgeons that have all the professional athletes such as skiers or skateboarders, and ballerinas who they have helped and the patients have donated posters of them performing with notes of thanks and arrows next to the body part they did surgery on. It feels personal yet reassuring too.

What were some of the things you shared with me? We decided to dream big!

  • Rachel would like comfortable seating, several TVs where you can plug in a headset to listen like at the gym, lysol wipes and hand sanitizer in multiple locations. She specifically said, “No scented candles or decorative fountains.”
  • Laura loves the offices at her neurologist. They have soft green and yellow colors, very earthy decorations, soft lights and nice big windows with a beautiful view of trees.
  • Joyce decided to wish big and wants a jacuzzi. But some of her smaller wishes are just current magazines and a Keurig machine (that is the single serve coffee machine.) And while she is wishing, she says, “Oh, and Lindor Truffles. I mean, I might as enjoy the wait.”
  • Debbi wants recliners–soft comfy recliners. And she likes the Jacuzzi and truffle idea. She says, “My daughter would say separate the kids from the adults so the kids can have a play-room area, while the adults are encouraged to have a ‘quiet’ library-like room.”
  • And Betsi agrees, wishing for “private cubes.”

What we shouldn’t have to wish for?

Michele’s wish should be standard for all doctor’s offices but it’s not. “Room for wheelchairs and motor scooters to get through and in the exam rooms. Doors that would handle the larger wheelchairs to get through. Some offices have regular size doors that do not accommodate wider wheelchairs. Better education for their employees on how to better service those with physical and other disabilities. I really do not care to much about how the offices are–it’s more if they are clean and handicap accessible. I have noticed this is more of a challenge now that I live in the northeast where they have more older office buildings than the southwest.”

And even though it is not decor, my dream medical office would have . . .

  • A receptionist that is friendly and cheerful, but also understanding and sympathetic.
  • Good pens that write with ease when you must fill out long forms and forgot your own pen.
  • Free Wi-Fi. It helps keep many patients more patient.
  • A resource table with local organizations, support groups, a few books by local authors on health issues that you can read for a few minutes. I love to hear what is working for other patients, whether it is a gluten-free bakery, a physical therapist, or a babysitter service.

What would you have in your dream medical office?

Lisa Copen shares “I blog to inspire, to risk, to confess. To remember, to anticipate, to grieve. I write to rediscover, to get a grip, to nourish. As as one of the first health advocates with a Christian focus, online since 1996, I find joy in sharing the emotional and spiritual struggles –and blessings –with others who cope with chronic illness. My goal is to help others turn their detours of illness into a pilgrimage of hope.”Lisa’s book Why Can’t I Make People Understand?: Discovering the Validation Those With Chronic Illness Seek and Why is a wonderful journey through the emotional struggles we have about the misconceptions of those with chronic illness and how we should feel as well as we look. “It’s life-changing!” #NHBPM

10 Responses to What Does A Patient’s Dream Medical Office Look Like?

  1. Definitely high backed comfy chair
    A few soft cushions
    A fish tank
    A few pretty plants
    Books with beautiful photos of nature, animals, plants, sunrises & sunsets, waves etc
    Definitely a separate area for young families with children’s toys
    Fresh water stand
    Hot drinks spot with green teas, as well as the usual black tea & coffee
    LOVE the pebbles idea….gonna do that ASAP for people that come to visit me.
    Thanks for this Lisa, love the ideas. Lotsoluv Kerryn

  2. Great ideas in the article and great ideas from Kerryn also. My family dr. travels outside the US extensively and she has lots of framed photo collages and she has written the description under it herself, like the location and date. Very personalized.

  3. I had a neuro who checked me out for various things, and his office was pretty close to perfect. The receptionist had a chronically ill husband….need u


    • It is 2015 now and I see that I was still quite ill in Nov of 2012 [when I last commented]! A bad year–with funeral plans made–but here I am and chuckling to see my scribbles…

      Personally, I don’t care about décor as long as it is clean. I want an understanding staff, including the doctor.

      My dream office is neutral in color, and sometimes Judge Judy [on the TV] is distracting, but sometimes when you have your patients captive this is a great time to learn! So many are grasping for information on pain, and what it does to your life, your relationships, what is Chronic Pain, etc. That is what my Neuro does, and we have no choice but to learn! :)

      I’m so glad to get out of the house, and teaching is my background, I find myself talking to another and helping them understand the pain scale which no one understands anyway. I think everything is supposed to be on a 3rd grade level or something like that, so some of us, including me with TBI, take forever to fill out paperwork because it’s like doing calculus. That’s why our blood pressure is high… it’s the paperwork, not the white coats! :)

      Another doctor makes copies of important information regarding her specialty. It’s helpful when she is explaining what is wrong and the treatment. We can remember enough to take it home and show our family.

      My one big soap box…. It is not only valid research, but we hear doctors speak on the importance of family understanding TBI, Chronic Pain, etc. and help the family and patient begin successfully down the path to a new normal. So where is that person?

      If only there was someone who was understanding and well read, who understood both sides. And make it “required” that on a date family members of the patients choice come and meet with this person. The patient can be in the room or waiting for the doctor. Sometimes the patient would rather not be in the room when these discussions take place. I have been “in trouble” by my adult children because I’m not as confident as I once was, nor my self esteem as high. Typically, beating one down with a baseball bat does not increase the chances of having more confidence or self esteem. U

      nderstanding what is happening with TBI, etc… would have been great. I can give them all the info, but I can’t make them read. So when I hear a speaker speak on this, I wonder if they have put this into practice. It would lessen some stress, thereby, lessen some pain.

      Attitude is everything, the rest is just icing!

  4. Lisa, I forwarded this onto my Nutritionist/naturopath……I reckon she’ll take up quite a few of those ideas, as she’s very open to creating comfort. Will see what changes I notice next time I go!! LOL! Lotsoluv Kerryn

  5. 1)a separate waiting area for those who are sneezing, coughing, etc
    2) the TV on low volume. it’s hard to sit there with a pounding migraine while a loud TV is blaring!
    3)love the fish tank idea. it’s very soothing to watch
    4)chairs of different heights & depths, people come in all sizes. my feet rarely touch the floor if i sit all the way back in the chair.

    thank you for this, lisa!

  6. A giant clock with a timer that promises a 50 cent refund for every minute late for your appointment. LOL

  7. When I have appointments I often think about a separate room or rooms for those wanting quiet from the television, conversations, the few loud talkers (there is always one or two), and/or rambunctious children. In the room, people can meditate, do a short yoga session, listen to nature noises on tape, or water the plant(s) in the room. I have always wanted to decompress during the long days at the doctor, especially at the big hospitals when there are few breaks. And the best part of a doctor’s office would be UPDATED magazines! Subscribe to 2013!!!! 😉 And to a wide-range of magazines for a wide array of interests. Even poll patients. Another idea is optional counseling after any visit with any doctor. That might be unrealistic but I would be curious how many patients took the offer. Hmmm… Makes me wonder… May delve into this on my own in my blog. Interesting!

  8. I also love the idea of the chairs at different levels — some recline, ottomans, etc. A coffee/tea cart (free to a minimal charge) comes around the hospital I go to and they offer beverages, including hot cocoa. There are muffins, fruit, mints, etc. It would be great to have it just there at each waiting area because it doesn’t come each time or when you want it. I like the coffee/tea bar area. I do worry about the germs though. :(

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