There are a lot of factors that go into designing and buying furniture for your waiting room. It can be hard to know where to start. You probably have a general idea of how much money you can afford to spend, but no idea how prioritize or budget for each item. The best way to start planning your design and creating a furniture budget is to break it down into categories.
There are a few key elements that every waiting room should have: a front desk, seating, tables and storage for visitor items. These are the items that you should plan your budget around. It’s easy to get ahead of yourself and start thinking about the many extras that you may want to incorporate in your waiting room, like Zen waterfalls. But you don’t want to spend too much in the wrong places and leave your patients sitting on bean bag chairs.
To create a budget for your waiting room furniture, first determine how much space you have to work with. Start by measuring your waiting room area to get the square footage. Then observe the space.
Determine where the foot traffic in your waiting room will be. Depending on whether you’re redesigning or starting from scratch in a new space, you can watch where your patients currently walk or make an educated guess. Your patients should have a straight line to get from the entrance to the front desk and then through to the exam rooms.
In addition, the American with Disabilities Act makes some very specific requirements about designing your office to be accessible. Make sure when you’re planning your furniture layout that all of your walkways between seats, tables, or to and from entrances, will be wide enough to accommodate patients with mobility aids or difficulty maneuvering. The ADA specifies that “the clear width of walking surfaces shall be 36 inches (915 mm) minimum”.
Block those areas off mentally as you begin to plan your new waiting room. You can even mark it physically to give you a better idea of the actual space you’ll be dealing with. It’s absolutely essential you meet all ADA requirements when redoing your medical office. You can find all the specific ADA requirements at https://www.ada.gov/.
The reception desk is a central element in any waiting room. It will need to serve many different functions, and endure a lot of wear and tear. It’s also the first thing everyone will look for when they enter, so it needs to be stylish and welcoming too. That’s a lot to ask of any one piece of furniture, so leave plenty of room in your budget to find a quality desk that will meet all of your practice’s needs.
The first step to finding the right desk is to determine how big it will need to be. How many staff will be stationed at the desk? What office equipment will need to be there, like phones, faxes, printers, and computers? There will need to be enough storage room underneath to tuck away deliveries or mail so there’s no visible clutter.
Next, measure the space you intend to place it. Make sure that you will have room to fit an appropriately sized desk without any problems. Once you know the approximate size and shape of the desk you need for your waiting room, start pricing out options that will fulfill your needs.
HIPPA is something that should always be at the front of your mind. Because there will be private information involved with checking your patients in and out, protecting that information should be a major factor when it comes to choosing a reception desk. Desks with raised fronts, for instance, can help to block the view to any paperwork or computer screens that may have sensitive information.
Seating will probably be the biggest chunk of your waiting room budget. This next part of your budget will be determined by how many chairs and what type of chairs you’ll need for your waiting room.
Start by determining how many chairs your patients currently use on your practice’s busiest days. Take a look back at your sign-in records if you need to refresh your memory. It may actually be fewer than you thought. Most practices tend to cram in as many chairs as possible into their waiting room. But it can often be more practical to reduce the number of chairs and instead invest in better quality seating.
Many practices are also adopting new patient check-in systems that minimize crowding in their waiting rooms. By moving patients quickly from check-in to an exam room to take samples or patient history, you’ll reduce the amount of space and chairs you’ll need for your waiting and your patients will perceive their waiting times as shorter once they’re in the exam room. That leaves more room in your budget to buy better furniture.
The importance of choosing the right seating for a waiting room can often be underestimated. The thinking goes that “a chair is a chair”. But if you have older patients, larger patients, or patients with mobility issues, you need to consider a variety of seating options to accommodate those patients’ unique needs, such as bariatric chairs.
It’s also key invest in furniture with materials that will be durable and easy to clean. Material is a crucial factor for controlling the possible spread of infection and maintaining general cleanliness. Vinyl, for example, is one of the best material choices when it comes to infection control. Vinyl is durable, impermeable, and easy to clean and sterilize. Water resistant fabrics are also a great option.
Having tables and storage in your waiting room is vital as well. When you take the time to realistically evaluate the number of chairs you need for patient seating, you free up space and money to add in tables and storage for your patients’ and families’ personal items.
The ideal waiting room layout places medical office chairs into intimate groups that allow patients to sit together with family.
Take some time to map out how you can best arrange your chairs to create intimate and private areas for your patients. For each of these grouping, there should be at least one table to allow patients to rest their bags or personal affects without taking up extra seats.
After you have an idea of where and how many tables you’ll need, you can begin to price out different styles and material options for your tables. You can also price out additional storage options like coatracks.
With the basic medical office furniture for waiting rooms out of the way, the rest of you budget can go towards all the extras that will make your office welcoming and unique. Art and decorations can convey a lot about your practice to your patients, but it can also help to create a soothing environment that actually promotes healing.
Reach out to local artists or art dealers to see if you can find pieces and decorations that will suite your practice, support your local community, and fit your budget. Plants are especially great for sprucing up any leftover empty areas without breaking the bank.
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