healthcare waiting room interior design

This is the waiting room decor guide you need to excel


(UPDATED (5/6/2020)

Waiting rooms and the reception areas of doctors’ offices have undergone a massive shift since we wrote about them in January! Here is a mid-2020 update with new interior design and layout ideas to take into consideration.

Waiting rooms can be stressful. There's no way around it.

The flipside of stringent restrictions changing traffic paths through healthcare facilities everywhere, though, is that waiting room interior design is having its day in the sun! It's time to take the stress out of this situation entirely.

This blog post will lay out the interior design tips and décor considerations you need to take on board for the revamp (or new build) of your healthcare clinic or doctors’ office - with a special focus on transitional spaces like reception areas, public seating areas and waiting room spaces.

How to decorate a healthcare waiting room in 2020

Adaptability is the coveted trait of new employees, for one, but it’s also up to conservative business spaces to adapt too, as fast as possible.

We’re seeing changes everywhere, from the bar and restaurant industry to hotels, from retail spaces and within the healthcare industry too. It’s more important now than ever to ensure your customers have a good experience with your services because that could be the prime differentiator going forward.

The healthcare sector is no different: in fact, it’s facing an uphill battle.

Three major pressure areas facing healthcare interior design as a whole this year are:

  • layout design, especially internal wayfinding and navigation
  • choice of furniture and decoration now has different demands and expectations weighing on it
  • changes to the interior architecture of the building itself

Let's see how these changes are affecting waiting areas.


Learn more from our up-to-the-minute post about the future of healthcare interior design

Make your clinic waiting room interiors work for you and your patients

Waiting rooms are evolving. They used to have a bit of a reputation as dull, functional rooms that serve little purpose other than to house uncomfortable chairs. Not anymore!

Where patients used to spend hours on end in waiting areas, the flow of traffic has sped up considerably in recent months due to space restrictions.

Let's look at the separate sets of people that these rooms are intended for.


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healthcare waiting room interior design
healthcare waiting room interior design

Waiting rooms serve an important function and need to be efficient and accessible for two distinct groups of people:

  1. your healthcare staff
  2. your patients

Waiting room functionality has to cater to both of these groups, and their needs are changing too. For example, in a post-Covid19-world, how many people can waiting or reception areas hold at any one time?

How is this space navigated when there are so many restrictions in place?

I believe the pandemic may trigger different ways of designing the flow of patients around the facility and waiting room configurations to minimize exposure. - Victor Sanz, Managing Director of DMG Interiors. (source)
healthcare waiting room interior design
healthcare waiting room interior design

Design your waiting room interiors to provide a positive experience

Here are ways interior designers are upping their game.

  1. Start with creating a pleasant, visually appealing environment. Privacy and reassurance are just as important as they were in 2019. Pro tip: neutral colour schemes and natural textures help!
  2. Focus on enhancing the experience of patients. Don’t stop providing good lighting and noise level control just because there’s a pandemic.
  3. The big emphasis for 2020 is on the materials used in healthcare settings. We need to be even stricter when it comes to protecting against the spread of viruses and other germs. Did you know we have an antimicrobial range called FibreGuard Pro?
  4. Re-arranging spaces to allow for a new flow of traffic is also necessary. Ideally, the door that patients enter and the door they exit is different, and the footfall flow is consistent with this.

Interested in using our high-performance fabrics in your healthcare project? Check out how Denmar Psychiatric Hospital used FibreGuard fabrics in their facility (CASE STUDY).

Even small office waiting rooms can have a furniture update

Clinic reception and waiting areas are the first spaces that patients visit. Use them to set the right tone and manage their expectations.

Updating the furniture is your first step in customising the space to fit your patients’ needs.

A variety of modular seating options is a good idea especially when you think about how you’re catering to ill or differently-abled people – it should be movable too, to give patients more ‘control’ over their environment.

Modular furniture has a second use: the restrictions on the capacities of hospital waiting rooms will fluctuate in coming months due to changing restrictions. Modular furniture allows healthcare staff to adapt the space to the number of people allowed in it and get right on with doing their jobs.

As interior designers, the needs and wants of the inhabitants of a space are at the forefront of every decision we make. Waiting rooms pose an interesting problem in this regard, simply because they are so context-specific.

Remember, though: those needs and wants are evolving to adapt to a new normal, or, as we prefer to think of it, the new now.

healthcare waiting room interior design
healthcare waiting room interior design

Small comforts go a long way in healthcare interiors

Coffee stations have fallen from their lofty perch since December 2019. Once the pride and joy of waiting rooms and college canteens everywhere, they've tumbled into neglect because of the contamination risks involved, as so many people touch the machine every day that suddenly nobody wants to be touching anything.

If you're determined to provide coffee to patients in this new waiting room design (which is a good idea!), you can get around this dilemma by providing 'safer' alternatives.

Keep your patients hydrated instead with bottled water or even single-serving Frappuccinos in bottles. Any way you limit patients touching surfaces is a step in the right direction.

Upgrading available tech is a simple way to increase the good experiences of your patient while benefitting your own systems too. Having a technological solution for patient check-in, for example, can do three things in one go:

  1. streamline the tasks of the clinic’s back office
  2. create a centralised knowledge database
  3. keep patients and staff as socially distant as possible by limiting their interactions

What other small comforts can you provide?

Put yourself in their shoes.

What about disposable face masks and hospital gloves? How about slightly more high-end hand sanitiser that cares for skin instead of stripping it dry?



Your clinic’s reception area is an opportunity to teach

Harness the power of your waiting room to inform its inhabitants.

Posters are an easy way to keep information visible and accessible at all times. Provide as much information upfront to patients as possible to successfully limit their time in the facility, and their interactions with staff.

  • Posters could provide QR codes that point to specific sites with reputable information about different maladies and medications. This way, patients can use their own private devices if they need to. Physician’s Weekly reports about a survey conducted by CDMiConnect which found that those “[patients] who used their mobile devices in the waiting room reported they felt better prepared (82 per cent) and more confident (78 per cent) for the conversation [with their provider]. They also understood their condition better (80 per cent), which could even lead to better outcomes.”
  • Check posters every few months for tears or out-of-date information. Shabby waiting rooms affect patients’ moods negatively (speaking from experience!)
  • Switch up the art every so often for a fresh feel.

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Tablet devices and reading material in waiting rooms

Many doctors’ waiting rooms have heavy-duty tablets installed for patients to browse healthcare-related information, but we advise against installing devices like these for the moment.

Limiting tactile interaction in the waiting room is a key ingredient to keep everyone healthy. We also advise removing any reading material from your waiting room for the time being, for the same reason.

Covid-19 information requirements

Finally, it’s a requirement in many regions to have clear signage pertaining to hand hygiene and the waiting room etiquette displayed prominently.

Make sure you address this, as it can reassure patients that they’re behaving properly when out and about while giving them instructions on how to use your transition area and healthcare facility!

Antimicrobial fabric that works as hard as you do

Thank you for reading our blog post!

Don’t forget to check out FibreGuard Pro: the fabric with an extra layer of protection for your patients, your staff, your family and co-workers.

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