Why Your Doctor'S Office Design Could Make You Sick
Doesn't matter if you're going to the dentist, your family doctor or a specialist— once you walk through that door, you're hit by a wave of that anxiety-inducing smell of sterile, cold plastic. The chairs are uncomfortable, the decor is weird. It leaves most of us with anything but a good feeling, and no, it's not just in your head— stress can actually make you sick.
One group of clinics are trying to revamp the traditional doctor's office, so patients actually feel better when they walk in to see their health care provider. As the New York Post reports, One Medical, a chain of clinics with nine locations in New York City, decided that they wanted to design doctor's offices that would enhance the health of their patients. They did away with stiff seating and bright white walls and replaced them items that would remind you of a comfortable living room.
“When you go to a doctor’s office and you see a row of 12 vinyl chairs, you [can] feel like a number,” said Andy Grover, Vice President of real estate and development at One Medical. But how much of a difference, besides just making the experience a little less stressful, can a cushy room make on a patient's health?
As it turns out, the decor of a doctor's office actually has a tangible effect on both how the patient feels and how they perceive the quality of their care. A study published in 2002 showed that "subjects associated waiting rooms that had warm furnishings with higher quality of care." Another study published in 2015 stated, "lighter colors have a pacifying effect in hospital rooms." So that's exactly what One Medical did. They created doctor's offices with comfy, welcoming furnishings and painted the walls with blues and grays, which Grover says are calming.
While we are all hoping that doctor's offices everywhere will get on board with this new trend, odds are it won't happen for a while. So next time you're heading in for an appointment and are met with a sea of rigid chairs and that oh-so familiar sterile stench, follow some of these strategies for de-stressing to help get you through your appointment.