A group of people looking at a computer screen.

How do you arrive at an optimal exam room design?

Research Project Name

Testing the Validity of Exam Room Design

What We Did

As part of the creation of ambulatory design standards for Rush University Medical Center, we conducted a detailed study of optimal exam room design tailored to the needs of their organization. Before putting pen to paper, our team, that is comprised of leaders from Gensler’s Health & Wellness practice area, set out to gather as much information as possible: we toured three existing Rush facilities and studied post-occupancy evaluations related to them. We deliberated all materials on Rush’s current paradigm of facility guidelines.

We modeled floor plans to dimension exam rooms and workstations, and illustrate how each space is defined by an onstage/offstage corridor model. We then developed actual prototypes for testing: four exam rooms and two caregiver work zones for practitioner and patient evaluation. With a space type like exam rooms, there are myriad variables with complex interactions with one another. Even if we are on the beat of the latest literature, only in case-by-case testing can reach our goal of an ideal patient and practitioner experience.

To optimize patient experience and functionality, we applied an app-based survey to gather feedback on each prototype. Our survey included two components: a questionnaire and written responses. Respondents included physicians and nurses, facilities management, environmental services, leadership, and certified medical assistants. In total, nearly 200 people provided input over a two-week period. We supplemented our survey with discussions with a steering committee who considered 33 additional variables that ranged from floor materials to sink and cabinet positioning. After our survey and discussion phases, we analyzed respondent answers and ran an analysis of chi-square testing.

Finally, we created a fifth prototype exam room that is a hybrid representation of our research outcomes. Survey results, written responses, and steering committee discussions helped aggregate each configuration and product choice.

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Bonny Slater, Jill Mahaney, Jin Chung, Joy DeWitt, Linda Mysliwiec, Katie Smith, Randy Guillot, Tama Duffy Day, Nick Watkins

Year Completed