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Taking the Wait out of the Waiting Room

Hacking Medicine | Projects

  • When we go to the hospital, we all encounter the typical waiting room scenario. It's boring and unresourceful. We find ourselves waiting around in a room with nothing to do but reading health magazines or staring aimlessly in space. Current waiting rooms aren't welcoming and inviting and we are wasting our time. We find ourselves waiting in a waiting room. We need change and our group was inspired to make waiting rooms a better experience.

    In this studio, we redesigned and hacked the waiting room. Our ideal room provides a combination of public, private, quiet, and loud spaces for patients and doctors. There is a receptionist/pharmacy, a cafe, private pods, a TV room, and a kids space. The goal is that prospective architects can take specific "spaces" (i.e. the cafe or kids space) and incorporate it into their specific hospitals. Our hospital waiting room can suit multiple types of patients such as parents with children, singular patients, or couples. The nature-themed color palette and materials create an open, asethetically pleasing, and inviting area. It is a new and healthy transformation of the old, sterile waiting rooms present today. 

  • The idea behind our project is that the current state of waiting rooms is not efficient nor comfortable for anyone involved in the process. We want to redesign a waiting room that encompasses what patients, doctors, and hospitals/clinics need. Patients have places to relax and occupy themselves, doctors have a place to talk to the patient in a more open environment and a way to prescribe medication that the patients can pick up immediately after the check up, and hospitals have a way to make more money with our cafe and gift area. 

    When we did research, we found a lot of cool architecture ideas that different companies have done with office, cafe, and waiting room spaces. We also found that making conscious decisions about the colors of the room can change the attitude of the patient and everyone in the room. For example, natural, earthy, and beach toned colors calm a patient and make him or her feel more at home. This is why we included the vine arch entryway to the children's area and recommend adding plants on the top of the semicircle couch. 

    Our first design looks similar to the end result, but we made a few important changes along the way that change the overall flow of the room. In this idea, each of the areas is separate. When we transmuted this into Rhino, we realized that we did not account for dimensions, so we had to change the places where we put each area. The pods changed from behind the receptionist to the top right corner, the kids' area moved to the bottom left corner, and the pharmacy became the back of the receptionist's desk. 

    After putting everything on Rhino, the room still felt divided. Flow was complicated and there was dead space between each area (see between cafe and pods/kids' space and TV room). We decided to connect the couch on the kids area to the TV room couch, get rid of the TV room walls, extend our semi-circle couch to connect to a pod, and wrap our cafe area around the back of the semicircle couch. To compensate for cutting out the TV area walls, we found out about sound domes, which are domes that people stand under to hear certain sounds (like a TV show or movie). If someone is not standing under the dome, he or she cannot hear the sound. This is a solution that allows our space to feel open, yet maintain its quiet composition even with a TV. The last way that we changed the flow and division of space was to lift the ceiling over more open flow space and drop it over areas that we wanted to feel different than the open middle.

    The flow diagrams are intended for different types of patients, illustrating where they would typically go in our waiting room. The general flow illustrates the main path each patient will take. They will first check in at reception after entering, then they will make their way to the doctors' office, then when they come out they will pick up a perscription at the pharmacy and leave. There is a diagram for a more private family or group. They would check in at reception and head to either a pod or couch, then go to the doctors office when called in. The diagram for children and parents shows both groups heading to either the kids' are or the TV area. Finally, there is an option for a patient going in alone. He or she would go to either the cafe, the couch, or the TV area before going to the doctors. 

    Obviously, these are not the only options all of these patients have. A parent may go to the cafe to get a coffee or a treat for his or her child. A more private family may want to watch a movie in the TV area. A singular patient may sit outside the kids' area to read a magazine. But I think that's what makes our waiting room stand out; the patients have options.

    We diagrammed the privacy and sound level throughout the space as well. The most quiet areas are also the most private (TV area, pods, couches). 

    We all learned a lot about architecture, design decisions, Rhino, and 3D printing over the past 2 weeks. We found out that for spaces to feel different, there do not need to be walls. We discovered that even though we could draw just about anything to fit into a room, that does not mean that the dimensions will add up. We determined that precision in Rhino was essential in the 3D printing/laser cutting stage. We had to be intentional about every decision we made in terms of size, negative space, texture, and color. Finally, because we had to be intentional about every decision we made in terms of size, negative space, texture, and color, we learned that design is premeditated in every highway, street, building, and room.