The Best Layouts for Your Office Waiting Room

Physician appointments are commonly associated with discomfort and pain. Patients don’t like going to physicians in loom of discomforting news. To keep the fear at bay, physicians across practices have invested time in designing the heart of their medical practice: the waiting room.

The waiting room is the opening statement to a medical office. Patients often form their first impression of a medical practice in the waiting room or reception area. Stained furniture, old torn magazines, or a rude front-office receptionist can wreak havoc on how patients perceive the quality of their care.

The messages conveyed by a waiting can be subtle or direct. Everything from the arrangement of seating to the type and intensity of color and light has an impact on a patient’s mood and well-being. These simple office waiting room ideas can drastically improve the mood of your entire business.

Choose Colors and Tones Carefully

Because one of your main goals is to relieve patients’ feelings of tension or fear, lean towards colors that soothe, rather than those that excite. Create the ambiance of the space using color tones and contrasting textures. This could be in the furniture you choose as well as the colors of your walls and fixtures. If you are designing the waiting room, you may want to consider calming and soothing colors such as green or blue with a touch of pink for compassion. Blue illustrates honesty, loyalty and security while green is calming and soothing. Refrain from using yellow and red as they may cause anxiety and aggression.

Set the Mood with Lighting

Just as the décor sets the ambiance, so does the lighting. Adjusting the lighting in your waiting room can promote a relaxed mood. Soft, bright lights create a calming sensation that appeals to the patients. Low, warm light, on the other hand, creates a “homey” environment. Artificial lighting (i.e. fluorescent bulbs), however, can come off as harsh. Natural lighting can visually create a larger space. Out of all the office waiting room ideas for improvement, lighting is the most effective.

Pay Attention to Traffic Flow

Your waiting room space and design is the forefront of your medical office or clinic. To design a welcoming space, consider where your guests will be entering and exiting from, and make sure these areas coincide with the waiting room. Make sure décor and furniture design layout corresponds with the traffic flow. There is nothing worse than showing up for an appointment and having no idea where to go. The design of your waiting room should make sure the foot traffic flow is clearly marked.

Choose the Right Furniture

The most important part of your waiting room décor is the furniture. Not only is it the first thing your guests will see, it determines how comfortable they will feel in your space. Consider the styles, colors and fabric choices that will help support a branded look.

Measurements are key in selecting the furniture (including seating). Design your space to look professional and attractive while comfortably accommodating your visitors. To decide how much furniture, you will need, consider how many waiting room chairs would be used by your guests on the busiest day. Then select your waiting room chairs based on comfort, style and practicality. Once this is done, fill the space with tables — keeping in mind the traffic flow.

Finish with a Touch of Décor

Once you have decided on your furniture and colors, you will want to pick out some décor items that will help set the mood in your waiting room. Select things that people will remember and keep your clientele in mind. Tasteful art pieces or frame work, an aquarium full of exotic fish, or a relaxing water feature adds visual interest and it can help relax your patients before their appointments. The waiting room is also the perfect place to display information about your business and related magazines and books to help your visitors pass the time.

Schedule a Consultation

Considering space for your medical practice can be challenging with multiple factors influencing your day-to-day operations. Whether you are starting from scratch or in the early stages of planning your move, Boulevard LA has the expertise and knowledge to help guide you.

Making Your Medical Office Wheelchair Accessible

Patients with mobility impairments often face challenges in visiting their medical office due to the physical barriers within medical buildings and offices, including the lack of ramps, grab bars, height-adjustable examination and imaging tables, and inadequate space within which to maneuver a wheelchair or to transfer to an examination table.

Waiting Room and Reception Room

Wheelchair accessible space should be available for wheelchair users to park while waiting for appointments at their medical office. Consider installing firm chairs with armrests to help those who have difficulty with switching from sitting to standing positions. Reception windows should be height appropriate for wheelchair users (approximately 34 to 40 inches from the ground) and incorporate a counter surface that allows wheelchair users to complete required forms.


Your medical office should include accessible washrooms and appropriate signs to indicate their location. Accessible washroom facilities need sufficient space for turning and transferring, grab bars, and emergency call bells. Sinks, mirrors, soap, and paper towel dispensers should all be at a wheelchair-accessible height.

Wheelchair Accessible Examination Room

Accessible examination rooms have features that enable patients with mobility disabilities to receive appropriate medical care. These features allow the patient to enter the examination room, move around in the room, and utilize the accessible equipment provided. The features that make this possible include:

  • An accessible route to and through the room
  • An entry door with adequate clear width, maneuvering clearance, and accessible hardware
  • Appropriate models and placement of accessible examination equipment
  • Adequate clear floor space inside the room for side transfers and lift equipment

All examination rooms must meet requirements of the ADA Standards for Accessible Design. Accessible examination rooms may need additional floor space to accommodate transfers for certain equipment.

The number of examination rooms with accessible equipment largely depends on the size of the practice, the patient population, along with other factors.

Entry Doors

Under the ADA Standards for Accessible Design, an accessible doorway must have a minimum clear opening width of 32 inches when the door is opened to 90 degrees. Maneuvering clearances on either side of the door also must comply with the ADA Standards. The door hardware must not require tight twisting, pinching or grasping in order to use it. The hallway outside of the door and the space inside the door should be kept free of boxes, chairs or equipment so that they do not interfere with the maneuvering clearance or accessible route.

Clear Floor and Turning Space Inside Exam Room

In order for accessible equipment to be usable by an individual who uses a wheelchair or other mobility device, a clear pathway must be available for patient access. The exam table must have sufficient clear floor space next to it so that an individual using a wheelchair can approach the side of the table for transfer onto it. The minimum amount of space required is 30 inches by 48 inches. Clear floor space is needed along at least one side of an adjustable height examination table.

The room should also have enough turning space for an individual using a wheelchair to make a 180-degree turn, using a clear space of 60 inches in diameter or a 60-inch by 60-inch T-shaped space. Moveable chairs and other objects should be moved aside if necessary to provide additional space.

Accessible Medical Equipment

Availability of accessible medical equipment is an important part of providing accessible medical care. Accessible medical equipment includes:

  • Adjustable-height exam tables and chairs
  • Wheelchair-accessible scales
  • Adjustable-height radiologic equipment
  • Portable floor and overhead track lifts
  • Gurneys and stretchers.

The right solution for accessible medical care depends on existing equipment and space available for the examination room and storage of equipment, the size of the practice and staff, and the patient population. What is important is that an individual with a disability receives medical services equal to those received by a person without a disability.

For example, if a patient must lie down to be thoroughly examined, then a person with a disability must also be examined lying down This examination which requires specialized positioning must be accessible. To provide accessibility, the provider may need an adjustable height exam table. However, if the examination or procedure does not require that a person lie down, then using an exam table is not necessarily important to the quality of the medical care and the patient may remain seated.


Healing Art: How Artwork Stimulates and Helps Patients

What is Art Therapy?

Art therapy utilizes art media, the creative process and the production of art to explore and open feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve mental health, reduce anxiety, and increase self-esteem.

The purpose of art therapy is to improve or restore a patient’s functions and his or her sense of personal well-being. Art therapy requires knowledge of visual art (drawing, painting, sculpture, and other art forms) and the creative process, as well as of human development, psychological and counseling theories and techniques.

Today art therapy is widely practiced in hospitals, psychiatric and rehabilitation facilities, wellness centers, schools, private practice, and other clinical and community settings.

Who Can Use Art Therapy?

Art therapy helps release bottled up emotions while giving new understanding and perspective to patients. For people living with cancer, art therapy offers a way of communicating and exploring difficult thoughts and feelings. It can stimulate positive feelings as well as shared experiences.

Art therapy may be helpful for people who feel uncomfortable with touch or talk therapies. It can also be helpful in supporting families and friends affected by the patient’s illness.  Although there is limited scientific evidence, many health professional utilize art therapy to:

  • Improve mental health by encouraging patients to express their emotions and help improve their relationships with other people.
  • Help patients adjust to a changing body image.
  • Encourage patients to be creative and self-confident
  • Help to control anxiety, depression and low self-esteem.
  • Help take the patient’s mind off pain or discomfort

Art therapy is practiced in mental health, rehabilitation, medical, educational, wellness, private practice and healthcare facilities. Art therapy is an effective treatment for patients who experience developmental, medical, educational and social or psychological impairment. Individuals who benefit from art therapy include patients of trauma, combat, adverse physical health conditions, and other health disabilities. Art therapy programs help patients resolve conflicts, improve interpersonal skills, manage problematic behaviors, reduce stress, and achieve personal insight.

Art therapy can benefit both children and adults. Even if you’re using creative arts as a means of expression without the aid of an art therapist, there are still many benefits to be had.

What Art Therapy Involves

While art therapy requires an art therapist, you can still achieve the benefits from art therapy without experience. Art therapy programs can take many forms, including:

  • Drawing
  • Painting
  • Sculpture, collage, or 3-D work
  • iPads, smartphones and digital cameras

If an art therapist is required, he or she will ask several questions about the patient during the first visit. By understanding the patient’s particular needs, problems, and expectations, the therapist aid can help design a plan of therapy that is most effective for the patient.

Art therapy can take place in individual or group sessions. These can last up to 60 minutes for individual sessions or longer for groups. Depending on the setting, art therapy programs can take place regularly for a fixed number of weeks or months.

Art therapy doesn’t teach patients to draw or paint. Art therapist aid will encourage patients to use art to explore their feelings and develop their own confidence and self-awareness. With the support of professionally trained art therapists, art therapy is usually a very positive process in patient treatment.

Schedule a Consultation

Artwork designed or integrated in your medical practice can stimulate and help patients. Whether you are starting from scratch or in the early stages of moving, Boulevard LA has the expertise and knowledge to help guide you and your medical practice to success.


How to Identify and Manage Difficult Patients

Angry, defensive, frightened, or difficult patients. When you see signs of clenched fists, furrowed brows, wringing of the hands, and/or restricted breathing patterns, try to uncover the source of difficulty for the patient. Don’t get drawn into a conflict. Instead, identify the cause, recognize when the triggers are invoked, and respond to the situation patiently.

For example, a patient who is in pain and has been waiting for an hour because the physician is tending to an emergency may be quite impatient and angry in the waiting room. He or she may respond with, “My time is as valuable as yours. I don’t understand why I had to wait for so long.” Responding with a sincere apology can be more constructive than having your own meltdown.

If the patient is scared about a diagnosis or treatment, encourage the patient to talk about it. This may help to establish a context for the fear, allowing the patient to deal with it more constructively.

If at any point, however, an encounter with difficult patients yields potential harm to you or your staff, ask for assistance from security and law enforcement.

Manipulative Patients

Patients who play on the guilt of others, threatening rage, legal action or suicide often exhibits impulsive behavior directed at obtaining what they want. The key to managing encounters with manipulative patients is to be aware of your own emotions, attempt to understand the patient’s expectations (which may sometimes be reasonable despite their actions), and realize that sometimes you must say “no.”

Patients and Somatization

These patients experience a chronic course of multiple vague or exaggerated symptoms and often suffer from anxiety, depression, and personality disorders. Essentially, somatization is when a patient associates a psychiatric condition with a physical condition. So if they’re suffering from anxiety but aren’t aware of it, they may believe they’re suffering from a physical issue such as bodily shakes or heart issues (such as the comparable symptoms of a heart attack vs. an anxiety attack).

The key to manage encounters with patients who mistake potential psychiatric conditions with somatic symptoms is to describe the patient’s diagnosis with compassion, and to emphasize that regularly scheduled visits with a primary physician will help reduce any concerns.

Grieving Patients

Familiarity with the normal stages of grief and the cultural context in which it occurs is key to managing communication with grieving patients. Look for signs of depression and maladaptive behaviors that prevent progression through the normal grieving process, and treat them. Help grieving patients by validating their emotional experience and making sure they understand that grief is a process. Encourage open communication, avoid inappropriate medication to suppress emotions, and advise against major lifestyle changes in the early stages.

External Factors to Consider

Physicians own attitudes and behaviors, as well as situational factors, may also contribute to difficult encounters with patients.

  • Angry or defensive physicians are more likely to react negatively to patients. Recognizing your own trigger issues and knowing what personal baggage you bring into the exam room can be valuable.
  • Fatigued physicians are often overworked, sleep deprived, and/or generally busier than needed to be at one time or another. It is important that you remain sensitive to the impact of physician fatigue on medical errors and patient safety.
  • Language and literacy issues are increasingly an issue among a more diverse population. Try to allow for extra time for these encounters. Whenever possible, work with a trained interpreter to minimize miscommunication.
  • Breaking bad news. When it is necessary to give patients information that will be difficult for them to digest, preparation is critical. Allow adequate time and privacy, and review the clinical situation. Assess what the patient already understands or believes about the situation and how much more information he or she wants. Disclose the news directly, allowing adequate response time for the patient and others in the room to process the information. After giving the news, offer additional resources, agree on next steps, and summarize the discussion and arrange for follow-up.

Further Reading