To be fully ADA compliant, offices must have adequate space for people in wheelchairs to maneuver freely and must have bathrooms equipped with grab bars and larger toilet stalls for wheelchair-bound patients. Widening hallways and ensuring there is enough space to accommodate wheelchairs when doors swing open is also a consideration. Reception desks and check-out areas also need to have access that enables someone sitting down to be seen at the right height, said Puffer.
Explore This IssueNovember 2015
Modernizing and Morale
Making the office space easy to navigate helps not only patients, but also office workers. Puffer said he remembers when corridors were three feet wide in the 1970s, then widened to four feet six inches to help make them more accessible to those in wheelchairs. Today, he designs hallways up to six feet wide if they are for a multi-physician practice.
“The ADA rules are one thing, but you also have to take into consideration the size of the practice and the number of bodies moving through the space.” Such updates can also help boost staff morale, noted Greenfield. “It’s important to be vigilant that your office space is a place you will feel confident in,” both for the physicians and other medical office staff.
Otolaryngology practices may have to incorporate space for specialized equipment, such as an audiology booth or dedicated space for selling hearing aids, either within or adjacent to the medical office. For patients who may have equilibrium problems, soothing colors and textures rather than vertical lines or jarring patterns can be helpful, said Puffer.
Making both the clinical staff and administrative employees happy can help physicians run an efficient and effective business, while encouraging patients to feel that they are in the right place for their medical care.
“Ultimately, a physician’s office is a place to heal people, but it is also a place of business,” said Greenfield. “You want to get referrals and positive ratings online, which are becoming elements that people use to make decisions about their care. Patients are becoming increasingly more consumerist in their care.”
Cheryl Alkon is a freelance medical writer based in Massachusetts.