The Bare Minimum of Modern Medical Office Design

By Conrad Cormier posted 10-08-2018 03:32


The days of paper charts, chock full filing cabinets and exam rooms that appeared to have suffered the action of a shrink ray gun are fading fast.

Setting up patient care space today is very much about partnerships meant to support an integrated health system and permit access to

  •       larger treatment areas,
  •       better/newer technology and
  •       highly qualified staff,

while distributing the resulting overhead costs in a sustainable manner.


Medical office design trends now favor the ‘home-like’ atmosphere and strive to make layouts feel as less ‘clinic’ as possible. Yet, they still need to be defined by such characteristics as accessibility, efficiency, safety, easily navigable floor plans and these are but a few of the requirements. So, if you’re interested to add to your current design priorities checklist, then give this article a read.

Energy Efficient

Medical offices are ideal candidates when it comes to boosting energy efficiency. High-powered equipment, specific climate and moisture control requests and an intense lighting regimen are only some of the heavy energy-consumers that come with the territory. This is why modern layouts are built to facilitate the use of renewable energy sources, diverse insulation systems and better waste management options.

If an in-house pharmacy is part of the practice, insulation is additionally important as it needs to ensure optimal storage conditions for many types of medication, from the commonplace tablets (i.e. painkillers, antacids etc.) to liquid mixtures (i.e. vaccines, CBD oil etc.), to niched implants (i.e. skin sensors, patches etc.).

Registration Area, Consider Patient First

Remember that first impressions count and this one section can do a lot to help, or harm, your patients’ immediate perceptions. Go with natural light and plants (if possible) and choose saturated colors (green, blue or brown) over pastel alternatives, which can create confusion for patients with diminished visual acuity. Do not shy away from combining different shades within the same area but align operational purpose with multi-colored display on all occasions.  

That being said, make sure the reception area layout is privacy regulation compliant. Having patients seated too close to the check-in desk might impact patient privacy. Therefore consider dividing the area in such a way that the completion of medical histories, communication of additional/sensitive information and the payment process, be possible with reasonable discretion.

Larger Exam Rooms

It’s a well-known fact that personal space - the limited physical area surrounding each of us -unconsciously influences our sense of comfort and preliminary conclusion on the nature of the interaction. The more this space is reduced or somehow restricted, the more we tend to get defensive and uncooperative. To counterbalance this natural human tendency and encourage a productive reciprocity with the patient(s), exam rooms have slowly expanded from the ‘traditional’ 7 by 6 dimension to 11 by 9, or more. The extra space contributes to an increased positive state of mind, for the patients and, by adding room to supplement equipment, a higher diagnosis/ treatment accuracy, for the physicians.


Transforming or re-shaping your practice is good business planning. Patients and medical staff alike will benefit from a well-designed work space - and, rest assured, there is a proven ‘method to the madness’. Eliminating inefficient storage areas, assigning open space to multiple waiting areas or consultation rooms, putting in place clear separations between the check-in/ check-out areas and using color for comfort will go a long way toward upgrading your practice.