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Paul Whitson: Outpatient Facilities Prioritize Patient-Centered Care

Regional Leader of Healthcare Paul Whitson has contributed a guest column to Medical Construction & Design on design strategies for putting patients first.

Citing examples from recent HOK projects including the Emory Sports Medicine Complex and the Duke Eye Center, Whitson outlines how the design of outpatient facilities provides opportunities to address nuanced patient needs.

Excerpted from Medical Construction & Design:

Healthcare delivery is constantly changing as new research, innovative technology and educational methodologies challenge how medicine is practiced. Fresh thinking, tools and talent are just part of the equation for a healthier tomorrow. The design and operation of healthcare facilities must also enhance the human experience and accommodate the ever-changing needs of physicians, staff and patients.

Whether through efforts to improve the healthcare experience, create more convenient access for communities or offer holistic treatment, the needs of patients will continue to drive the way new outpatient facilities are planned. With a focus on wellness and the overall experience, these healthcare settings can be designed and operated for healthier and happier patients.

The new Duke Eye Center in Durham, North Carolina, was planned with a strong focus on the patient. Their needs were considered at every step of the design process for this 127,000-square-foot facility. For individuals with vision problems, spaces with sharp edges and bold lines can be difficult to navigate. In response, the Duke Eye Center includes many round-edged walls and soft surfaces that help patients travel through the facility. Strategically placed and sized windows allow patients with varying levels of light sensitivity to still experience a connection to the outdoors while receiving treatment. Future phases are planned to include communal garden areas that accentuate textural and sensory stimuli.

To expedite wait times, the Duke Eye Center features pre-arrival and kiosk check-in options. Additional features include living room-styled waiting rooms for families to relax, color-coded wayfinding for easy navigation and a layout that limits the need for patients to move through the building.

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