Hospitality’s Influence on Healthcare Design

Healthcare systems, developers and design professionals are making strides to improve the experience and perception of medical facilities. Healthcare centers traditionally have been utilitarian and focused on a means to an end – providing medical services.

In today’s highly competitive healthcare landscape, each provider strives to be better than the next. The mentality shift of treating the patient as a customer rather than only a recipient of medical treatment has shaped the direction of healthcare design. Ensuring the patient’s experience is enjoyable, convenient and as pleasant as possible are the current drivers of design in the healthcare setting. Borrowing ideas from the hospitality industry where destinations are created, and the customer is king, healthcare providers and design professionals are upping the ante.

Patient is King
Hospitality design has historically been centered around the guest experience. A hotel is designed, staffed and marketed as a highly desirable destination. To differentiate themselves in a competitive market, healthcare facilities have been centering design around the patient experience in addition to the functional aspects of healthcare. Infusing elements of hospitality design, healthcare facilities today boast welcoming lobbies, retail elements, amenity spaces and an overall enhanced patient experience.

Sense of Place
From the moment you walk into a building or space, a sense of place is established. Your first experience within the space sets the tone and establishes a mindset for your visit.

Careful attention is paid to the path a patient travels during their entire journey in a healthcare facility, much like a hotel. The path from the lobby to the waiting area, exam room, and other treatment spaces, all the way through to the exit is carefully designed. Similar to a hotel guest’s path – from reception to the guest room, pool area, restaurant, and to the spa, hospitality professionals track the experience all the way through check out. Each touch point is well thought out, with a focus on the guest’s senses.

Tying the facility design to the local community is another way to strengthen the sense of place. Where is the medical center located? Is it in a beach-side community or a mountain town? From details such as the art on the walls, the color palette and food offerings in the café, infusing elements of the surrounding environment helps tie patients to comforting, positive aspects of the community. This also provides a unique experience that is not duplicative of every other healthcare facility.

Branding & Positioning
How are healthcare facilities branding themselves as a destination? Similar to a hotel’s strategy, it’s all about the cohesive messaging across the property. Through unique branding design, healthcare centers can tie their logo, marketing campaign, signage and wayfinding to their services while emanating a signature style. On the inside of the building, clear wayfinding identification and directional guidance is importance to provide a pleasant patient visit. This not only helps brand the medical facility and services, it improves the patient experience and ease with navigating the facility.

From Theory to Reality
The Good Samaritan Medical Pavilion is a recent example of hospitality design infused into a healthcare facility. Ware Malcomb provided architecture, interior design and branding services for the 193,500 square foot, seven-story, medical office building. It houses an ambulatory surgery center with eight operating rooms, imaging center, radiation oncology center, pharmacy, café and physicians’ offices. Integrating a hospitality theme, utilizing natural daylight and focusing on the patient experience was crucial to achieve the desired warmth and inviting nature of the design.

Walking into the medical pavilion, you are greeted with a grand lobby and exquisite staircases. The environment quickly creates a welcoming and upscale sense of place. With a large, open glazing wall, the lobby is well lit and natural daylight is abundant. Throughout the facility, healing natural light is utilized and showcased whenever possible.

A Delicate Balance
The balance between designing a healthcare facility and infusing the appropriate amount of hospitality elements is key. Although adapting elements of hospitality design in healthcare has become commonplace, it is important to find the equilibrium to ensure the elements borrowed make sense in the environment. The function of a healthcare environment is still, at the end of the day, primarily to provide care. Design professionals should not mimic hospitality, but rather integrate concepts when appropriate into healthcare facilities to enhance the patient experience.

Check out the latest healthcare projects in Ware Malcomb’s portfolio here.