Telehealth is a modern approach to the at home doctor visits that were once the norm and is revolutionizing the healthcare industry. Healthcare experts predict that 20% of all future (post-pandemic) office visits will be virtual. These virtual consults are for instances that don’t require a physical exam or procedure such as: chronic condition checks, colds, minor skin conditions, behavioral health, and follow-up visits.
Telemedicine increases convenience for patients, is a lifeline for the elderly and immobile, and health care professionals can see 50 to 175 times the number of patients. Medical office facilities must think beyond the technological updates their building will need and focus on telehealth design.
Here are some interior design elements that need to be considered to effectively integrate telehealth in your facility:
We recommend having a designated, secure space for all virtual consults. Patients should be seen in a private setting just as they would during an office visit. Other patients, monitors, and screens should not be visible from outside of this space. If the telemedicine space must also be used for patient exams, make sure there is enough room for the telemedicine equipment, exam table, hand-washing station, and a documentation area.
Telemedicine space should be in a quiet area and away from excessive noise like busy corridors, loud HVAC systems, etc. It’s important to reduce surrounding noises that a microphone can pick up. We recommend using a room with a door and a high sound isolation rating. This will help you hear the client, and make sure that no one else can hear the conversation between you.
Set up your camera so that it is facing a clean white or neutral-colored background wall. We recommend using a flat paint to reduce glare and reflections. Make sure that the space visible from the camera is free of clutter and without a bright window behind you.
While natural lighting is nice, bright window light can create shadows and make it difficult for the camera to clearly register your face. We recommend adding blinds to windows and avoiding harsh fluorescent bulbs. Instead, use muted or natural-colored bulbs in a combination of direct and indirect lighting to produce the most accurate visual for the patient to see.
Invest in a sit-stand table or desk to prevent back pain. We recommend getting dual monitor arms so you can easily see both the patient and your notes at the same time. There are a wide variety of computer carts and desks that can lock laptops in place for easy use and security. Additionally, an ergonomically sound chair is also key to preventing incorrect posture, fatigue, and headaches that may occur from excessive screen-time.
In this rapidly changing health care environment, medical office properties should plan for health system needs. The fear of future pandemics, as well as the convenience of its services, means that telemedicine is here to stay. The momentum is there: 57% of providers view telehealth more favorably than before COVID-19 and 64% report that they are more comfortable using it.
Taking the time to design a comfortable and private workspace can improve your telemedicine practice efficiency, enhance the virtual patient experience, and create an ergonomic environment for healthcare professionals.