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Third Spaces & the Patient Experience

December 1, 2016

I recently had the pleasure of attending the annual Healthcare Design Expo and Conference. KI has made it a tradition to not only exhibit at this premier healthcare event but to also spend a large amount of time listening to healthcare professionals discuss emerging trends, issues and best practices.

From the products featured to the speaker’s topics of discussion, one theme was clear - there is a monumental shift underway to address the patient experience in healthcare. This not only applies to the provider/patient relationship but also to a patient’s expectations for the healthcare spaces where they receive care.

Recent change to healthcare regulations is driving the market to a more consumer-based model of care. There are any number of factors that affect a patient’s experience. Quality of care and clinical outcomes are paramount but attributes like noise levels, Wi-Fi connectivity and aesthetics all play a role. Patients are consumers at heart. Retail experiences and trends in residential design and construction are trickling into patients’ perceptions of what constitutes a stellar healthcare environment and experience.

As a manufacturer, KI is witnessing a shift in how healthcare environments are being specified because of these demands. Patients, families and even healthcare staff no longer want to linger in uncomfortable waiting rooms or eat in sterile cafeterias. We’re seeing a rise in the use of third spaces.

What is a third space? Loosely defined as spaces that aren’t traditional home or work spaces, these areas offer a casual, comfortable environment where people can choose how they use the space. Think of a lounge area with Wi-Fi access or a café space where people can eat, socialize and catch up on emails.

A lot of time is spent waiting and transitioning between stages of care during a visit to a healthcare facility. Third spaces allow patients and visitors to gather and interact. Here are several strategies to consider when planning third spaces for healthcare environments.

  • Offer comfort – Lounge seating like KI’s Soltice Metal and Affina collections are not only comfortable but sophisticated and aesthetically pleasing.
  • Plan for connectivity – Patients and guests will pass time on mobile devices. Offer Wi-Fi and easy access to power so they can comfortably charge and connect online.
  • Create a variety of spaces – Third spaces can have a number of uses. Use different types of furniture that can be arranged for small one-on-one interactions or for larger group interactions.

View KI’s recent installation at Cobalt Rehabilitation Hospital of Surprise for examples of third spaces in healthcare.

by Deborah Breunig  VP of A&D Marketing

As Vice President of A&D Marketing, Deborah is responsible for building and nurturing relationships with significant influencers and decision-makers throughout the Architectural and Design community. Deborah has been a key marketing contributor to KI for more than 20 years. She most recently served as Vice President of Sales and Marketing – Healthcare. She is responsible for all aspects of A&D strategy; including business development and execution of strategic business and marketing plans. Deborah holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) from Bellin College of Nursing and an EMBA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is a licensed registered nurse in the state of Wisconsin and an Evidence-Based Design Accredited Professional (EDAC) with the Center for Health Design.

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