Because I’m in hospitals all the time talking with Unit Managers, Directors and Administration, I see artwork and design that clearly does not inspire a sense of calm, caring and safety. You would think that the reception desk, as the first impression a visitor will have, would have thoughtful artwork that would instill a solid sense of trust and reassurance. Walking up to a reception desk is an opportunity to expose your branding, display a sense of compassion and ease the mind that everything will be o.k.
So what is your reaction to this scene? When you’re suffering do you care who the foundation members are? Could this member list have been posted in another area in the waiting room?
Does this evoke a feeling of caring or compassion to you? What it says to me is we exist because of these people listed here and they are more important than you. I saw the specimen containers, exam gloves and antiseptic spray on the counter and the name board on the wall sort of came alive as some kind of monster.
This reception area is not exactly inoculating the anxiety of visitors to this facility. The first impression that could have been made that this facility is approachable and cares about you has been lost. The dark color, ominous shape with sharp edges gives off nothing to help quiet the racing thoughts about what you might expect. And there was no way I was even touching the counter wondering what kind of samples might’ve been placed up there.
Thinking like a patient is not easy, but necessary if patient satisfaction is your goal. The patient experience will be directly affected by everything they encounter. A scene from a Halloween House of Horrors can only increase anxiety. Spending time stepping back to look at your own reception desk and asking questions like, “How can I create a great first encounter at our reception desk?” and “What is the visual impression we are expressing?” “Does it foster an atmosphere of benevolence and condolence?” If you don’t know what this would look like, it’s possible you may need a compassion advocate experienced in designing healing environments in hospitals. First, you ask the questions. They should lead you to an honest appraisal of the message you are conveying. Then you can begin to align your vision and the mission of your organization with your design aesthetic for the benefit of making the patient experience the best it can be. Begin with the reception area and see the results in patient confidence and conviction. Sometimes it’s the smallest things that can make the biggest changes.