medical office remodeling

Top 3 Medical Office Remodeling Challenges—And How to Ensure Success

Published on: September 24, 2019

Medical office remodeling is a challenging endeavor, often because it’s easy to underestimate what’s important. If you’re a design layman, you may think of your remodel in terms of adding new furniture or changing the color of your walls, without considering the importance of signage. 

Signage design is a crucial component in medical office design as it improves how people interpret information in their environment and move intuitively through your office space. Signage will make visitors feel welcome while also minimizing delays due to wayfinding. 

Teaming up with an experienced healthcare signage design consultant early is going to be a key factor in success. By working with a professional, you can create a comprehensive signage program that pleases staff, visitors, and stakeholders. 

Creating Effective Signage in Medical Office Remodeling

The primary goal of medical office remodeling is to create a welcoming atmosphere that minimizes stress for patients and staff. A major part of this is environmental graphics and signage, as this information helps to guide the individuals throughout the building, from their entry to their exit. When you are establishing these sign standards, you’ll want to leverage: 

Intuitive visual cues

In design, intuitive visual cues can draw someone’s attention to a specific desired area automatically. For example, the process of including a reception desk facing the entry of a building provides an immediate cue to visitors that this is where they check-in. They don’t have to ask, as the clues in their environment tell them. 

We can see a great example of this with Advocate Children’s Hospital, which leverages intuitive visual cues targeted to their patient demographic: children. Cartoon characters and bright, fun colors help to draw their eyes while also orienting them to their space. These graphics mark areas like elevators, entryways, information desks and other key decision-making points while subtly guiding them to where they need to go. 

Progressive disclosure

Progressive disclosure is a design technique that minimizes the clutter that can create cognitive overload by providing only the exact information needed to make a decision at a specific point. When used in signage, it creates paths by providing sequential information that helps to guide individuals to the places they need to be. 

At Advocate Children’s Hospital, we see these innovative wayfinding solutions from the moment people enter the parking lot. As they drive in, they see a sign with basic options like “Parking,” “Main Entrance” and “Children’s Outpatient.” A driver may follow the signs to “Main Entrance,” as an example, and when they arrive, be confronted with a new sign that gives them choices between “Radiology,” “Pediatrics,” and other specialized departments. By scaling down the information on each sign, the hospital minimizes confusion from clutter and simplifies wayfinding

Subject matter expertise

Regulations are easy elements for laymen to overlook in selecting healthcare signage. Some signs are required, as are aspects like braille for the visually challenged. Even placement has specific requirements as the signs need to serve those with limited access. It’s often not possible to manage a signage program that’s up to code unless you have special expertise. 

That’s why when Advocate Children’s Hospital redesigned its signage program, they chose to work with a firm with knowledge and insights from rolling out decades of projects in healthcare settings. By leveraging the knowledge of a subject matter expert, Advocate was able to navigate code nuances without making costly errors. They created an inclusive signage program that worked for all their patients, regardless of physical ability. 

The Importance of Early Signage Design Insight 

When you work with a firm that doesn’t have an advanced understanding of healthcare design trends, it’s likely that you’re going to run into problems later on. A company that specializes in sign fabrication isn’t going to have the experience needed to establish a sign placement strategy based on visual design principles. They will provide the signs, but they won’t provide the blueprint you need to maximize their value. 

By retaining a professional design consultant early on into a medical office remodeling project, you can avoid common challenges that lead to wayfinding issues. These individuals help to guide a process-driven approach that combines necessary wayfinding, regulatory and environmental signage design. A design consultant with experience in healthcare wayfinding will help you avoid the common challenges of creating effective signage while simplifying the project from beginning to end. 

GNU Group has decades of experience rolling out healthcare signage projects. We have intimate knowledge of code and regulatory nuances, enabling us to provide critical enforcement insights. For more information on how we can contribute to your medical office remodeling success, connect with our team.