Questioning Healthcare Principles and Practices Drive Change

Posted by on Mar 22, 2019 in Behind the Design
Questioning Healthcare Principles and Practices Drive Change

Healthcare principles and practices drive change when processes are questioned. New ideas are born because people in a built environment ask themselves, how can I make this better?

The desire to improve processes revolutionize healthcare and make it better. Innovation such as that improves quality of care, creates more access, eliminates waste and ultimately lowers costs.

Improved Quality of Care

Quality of care has greatly improved in the last decade. Why? Because someone asked the question: How do we (the healthcare facility/provider) stay competitive in this market?

In 2003, it was stated in a medical journal authored by three respected doctors that “as healthcare facilities strive to satisfy their consumers in a competitive healthcare market, attention turns to the patient perceptions of their physical surroundings and how environmental elements affect their healthcare experiences.”

Since then, there has been a real shift focusing on patient satisfaction and improved quality of care. For example, modern waiting areas are more important now as are staff facilities.

More attractive waiting areas with modern amenities have been emphasized in design and construction because research links the modernity of the waiting area to the perceived quality of care. Also, patients reported that being occupied during the wait improved satisfaction.

Emphasis has been placed on the staff and improving their stations, breakrooms and shift routes. Doing so improves their patient interactions, communication, and overall job satisfaction. Research proves that these changes directly improve patient’s evaluation of their overall healthcare experience.

Access to Care

Healthcare is more accessible now. Perhaps you’ve seen new clinics pop up in strip malls in your hometown. I know I have multiple choices now less than 10 miles from my home. The emphasis on accessibility was essentially born from the question, how can we make healthcare better? The answer: Make it more accessible.

In the past, accessibility was about parking spaces, entrances, walkways and restrooms. In other words, it was thought about in terms of access to the facility which is not the same thing as access to healthcare.

The shift in thought has led to a much broader sense of accessibility. It now encompasses location, size of facility and access to modern equipment.

This larger sense of what access means has resulted in smaller facilities, located in accessible locations such as neighborhood strip malls and furnished with modern equipment that is multi-functional.

Less Waste and Lower Costs

Efficiency is key to less waste and lower costs. There is no argument. The more efficient you are, the less you waste. The less you waste, the lower the costs. Lower costs make facilities more competitive in the marketplace.

To become more efficient, healthcare principle and practices must be questioned. When someone questions a process, asking themselves how can I make this better? They are examining the practice and looking for ways to improve and ultimately revolutionize healthcare.

Questioning Principles and Practices

Sometimes questioning principles and practices can feel like a threat. But, it is the beginning stage of innovation. As healthcare organizations face unprecedented operational challenges, generating and implementing new ideas and processes is important to stay competitive in today’s market.

Marie Wikoff is the creator of Wikoff Design Studio based out of Reno, Nevada. Her expertise in healthcare design has helped modernize healthcare organizations locally, regionally, and internationally, improving patient experience and outcomes. Her credentials include Evidence-Based Design Accreditation and Certification (EDAC), American Academy of Healthcare Interior Designer (CHID), the National Council of Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) and LEED AP. Contact Marie Wikoff


“HCD Mag.” HCD Magazine The Ecology of the Patient Visit Physical Attractiveness Waiting Times and Perceived Quality of Care Comments, 2006,

“HCD Mag.” HCD Magazine Accessible Healthcare Its More than Facility Access Comments, 2010,

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