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Turning the Negative Impact of Technology on Healthcare into a Positive

May 16, 2016

It’s no secret that technology has done amazing things for our health and well being. Technological advances have brought us new treatments, medicines, and helped us live healthier, longer lives. On the flip side, technology may also hinder interactions between doctors and patients, as well as caregivers and colleagues.

The same technology that helps providers deliver better and faster treatment may also be decreasing face time with their patients. Think back to your last visit to a healthcare clinic. How many times did your healthcare providers use some sort of computer device? It adds up to a lot of screen time which ultimately results in less time focused directly on patients.

KI recently partnered with BBH Design and Parkland Health & Hospital System to research healthcare design in the outpatient clinic. Through our observations of physicians, nurses and patients we found that anyone using a computer is 67% less likely to interact with a patient. That means patients spend a large amount of their time in clinics sitting and waiting, disengaged from their care experience.

We also discovered that the reliance on technology has negative impacts on interactions between doctors and nurses as well. Even when work areas are shared, nurses and doctors are less likely to interface when using computers.

Strategies for Technology Integration

How can we solve this dilemma? It’s as simple as arranging tech devices and planning workspaces with face-to-face interaction in mind. Here are several strategies for increasing engagement while maintaining the use of technology:

  • Create an interactive experience between provider and patient. Integrate tables that encourage dialogue. Doctors can share a monitor or device while maintaining eye contact, eliminating the need to turn their backs on patients.

  • Incorporate wall-mounted monitors. Mounting monitors to walls makes information visible to both providers and patients and could help initiate meaningful discussion.
  • Reconfigure computer workstations to encourage interaction. Set up workstations so staff face one another. Lining workstations along walls decreases communication.

For more ideas on clinic design, download KI’s white paper, “The Communication Factor: Observations & Opportunities for Improving Clinic Design”.


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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