Efficient planning leads to successful urgent care office design.
Design and Planning Considerations:
1. Realistic construction goals (know the requirements)
2. Operational understanding (know the purpose)
3. Cost understanding (know the life-cycle costs vs ROI)
Outpatient clinics and medical offices, particularly urgent care facilities, often serve as an alternative place to receive healthcare. When individuals are unable to get to a hospital, or in rural areas where the population does not warrant a large ambulatory or hospital facility, small outpatient clinics and urgent care buildings can save money AND decrease ED visitors.
A CDC study contributes the basic growth in the population aged 65 and older to show a 26% increase in Emergency Department visits over the last 20 years; meanwhile, ages 50 to 64 saw a 15% increase and ages 22 to 49 a 19% increase.
Recent data from ED visits in 2015 shows that of 136.9 million visitors, 12.3 million (<10%) resulted in hospital admission while 1.5 million (<2%) resulted in admission to the critical care unit. The percentage of patients seen within the triage target time has declined a mean of 0.8% per year since 1997, most as result to population increases and unnecessary ED visits. The best way to avoid the constant decline of triage target time is to reduce the number of non-urgent ED visits.
Percentage of ED patients at community settings:
About 50% of ER visits could be handled by an Urgent Clinic and greatly reduce the volume at ED’s
Design for Efficient Operations
Organizing and completing field work along with discussions with core staff, allowed the research team to organize the clinical practice within three primary zones:
- Office Support encompasses the public and clerical realms of the family practice. The public spaces (“Front of House”) include patient check-in and access to educational information. The clerical area (“Back of House”) entails the business administration of patient processing.
- Clinical Support (lab and nurse areas), encompasses the technical and nursing components of the family practice that provide supplemental treatment and evaluation of patients. The first area supports diagnostic activities while a second area supports the nurses.
- Provider(support and direct care). has two general areas including care delivery support, with work space for providers, and direct patient care areas for the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of patients.
- General Support includes shared storage and server requirements.
CMArchitects Medical Design Guide
Patient satisfaction will increase as a result of active participation in care processes.
Patient satisfaction will increase as a result of the therapeutic environment.
Retrieved education materials in resources area will increase patient satisfaction.
Clustering frequently used spaces (MRI, Imaging, storage) and providing adjacency for providers greatly minimizes travel distances.
Provide a relaxed comfortable atmosphere and include exam table, flexible furniture for visitors, digital display monitors, sink, cabinets, etc.
Urgent Care Design and Planning Considerations
Here are few planning considerations we advice every owner / operator prior to hiring CMArchitects:
- Allow the Urgent Care Center to expand and contract efficiently throughout the day. (Daily patient flow)
- Allow staff to have a general awareness of the entire UCC.
- Integrate flexible/specialty areas (added value).
- Prioritize what should be in the clinical area.
- Anticipate the basic need of the staff.
- Give patients and family choices – amenities!
- Establish a security plan, along side a life safety plan, with standards.
- Determine requirements for Occupational Health and/or Internist.
- Anticipate that key strategic assumptions will be wrong. It’s a design process, it is inevitable.
- Make the floor plan intuitively clear to both patients and staff.
Author: Brent Hunter