Enhancing patient experience through environmental design in healthcare: A case study of privacy at Thielen Student Health Center and McFarland Clinic in Ames, Iowa
With the establishment of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the United States government mandated that healthcare facilities protect patient privacy through the implementation of physical safeguards. However, no requirements for the safeguards were established. This study utilizes lessons of wayfinding and behavior from environmental design research of humans in cities and applies them to the interior lobbies of healthcare facilities. To improve visual and auditory patient privacy at lobby's check-in desks, the study modifies the architecture, signage and interior elements to stop or slow patient movement towards the desks. Through field observation of patient behavior and the analysis of two facilities in Ames, Iowa, Thielen Student Health Center and McFarland Clinic, methods to create queuing were determined. These case studies allowed for the formulation of guidelines of environmental design that give all healthcare facilities a starting point for visual and auditory patient privacy through the emergence of waystopping.