Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

A Comfortable Office Improves Patient Outlook. (Start with a Homelike Feeling)

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

A Comfortable Office Improves Patient Outlook. (Start with a Homelike Feeling)

Article excerpt

The way your office looks may be more important than you might think. In fact, the way patients feel about their physicians starts with how they feel when they come through the door, notes Rayne Sherman, a certified interior designer with Sherman Ganus, an interior design and architectural firm based in Long Beach, Calif.

"Most people don't like to go to the doctor, he says. "If you exacerbate that by having them walk into a room that no one has cared about, or that has been planned badly the physician and his staff have more of an uphill fight to gain their confidence."

Your reception area doesn't have to resemble the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton, however. Instead, strive for a homelike feel with good air circulation (make sure to keep air conditioner filters clean to eliminate odor) and lots of natural light if possible. Use table and floor lamps in lieu of overhead fluorescent fixtures and choose calming colors for walls, floor coverings, and furniture. Small water fountains, aviaries, and fish tanks can also work.

"You're trying to generate a mood," offers Victor Regnier, professor of architecture and gerontology at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. "You're trying to make people feel good."

He recalls visiting the reception area of a cancer clinic where showcases displaying information about patients who had succeeded in their battle against cancer were placed around the room. "It was really interesting, because they reflected a positive spirit of overcoming this disease," he says. "To me, it was an interesting way of making people who are anxious and probably feel somewhat defeated a little bit more encouraged about what the possible outcome of their therapy might be."

Dr. William Soper, a family physician who practices in Kansas City Mo., has helped design seven offices over his career. He offers these tips:

* Enlist help from professionals. …

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