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Healthcare: Differentiating with Design

Resmed Sleep Clinic. Design by McCartney Design

Customers are starting to take more control over their healthcare. They are demanding more choice in who treats them and where. They are looking for ease, convenience, efficiency, and a pleasant place to be in.

This customer led business environment is driving the design of health care related spaces. As well as the treatment customers receive, there's an opportunity for the space itself to have a positive effect on their health- to be supportive. Design will start to become a differentiator between providers. These are five aspects of spatial design that we should be thinking about.


Comfort for many people now means space. Personal space. So we can’t clump seating together in rows or blocks any more. The environment needs to feel safe. Many visitors are suffering from some level of anxiety so distractions are important, especially natural ones like views or gardens. Plants- real ones- are worth the effort.

2. Provide CLARITY

Circulation and wayfinding should be intuitive. Humans navigate by colour, contrast and light- signage is a last resort. Visitors shouldn’t find themselves in a maze of corridors- it just stresses us out. Layouts should be simple and linear.

3. Give CHOICE

We are more comfortable and relaxed when we have choice. That might be whether to sit at a counter by the window or in an armchair in a corner. It might even be whether to have a consultation inside or outside. Bringing the outside in is a great way to create a supportive environment.

4. A fresh COLOUR and finish palette

Colour affects mood. All colours can have both positive and negative effects. No one colour should dominate and strong, aggressive colours are not a good idea. Textures and natural finishes do a lot to promote comfort and a feeling of well-being.


If we can do one single thing to alleviate stress for everyone it’s the elimination of clutter. Most waiting rooms are a cacophony of communication, much of it printed on the premises and imparting way too much information. Eliminating printed notices is both environmentally sound and provides a calmer, healthier environment. Carefully chosen art pieces can take their place.

When we talk about this type of design it’s not just visitors we are talking about. Health professionals work long hours and are also prone to stress. Creating a supportive environment goes a long way to helping them too.


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