Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Why Does Our Office Look Like That?

 Dr. White was recently asked to contribute a short article on the architectural elements of our Skyvision Centers office in Westlake, Ohio just outside of Cleveland. Here is what he had to say:

“In the design of any public space the sponsor and the architect must agree on both the mission and the audience for the space. This is more the case in spaces devoted to customer service, and in our opinion at Skyvision it is most true in spaces where people who are sick receive their treatment. In 2006 we had the good news/bad news opportunity to design a medical office from scratch, with neither an existing book of business nor any legacy protocols or design to which we needed to respond. Whereas most medical spaces are built around the needs and experience of the provider, we placed our emphasis on the needs and the experience of the patient by taking our design cues from non-medical customer service companies like Nordstrom’s and Canyon Ranch.

     The analogy that has been most helpful for me in describing our space is the kitchen sink. Ubiquitous, the kitchen sink comes in literally hundreds of different varieties, from bare utilitarian to extravagant and elegant. There is a necessary amount of plumbing involved in every sink, from very simple to quite complex, but essentially all of the plumbing is hidden from view. The workflow, the pattern of movement of patients, staff, and work that is necessary to provide eye care at Skyvision is much like the plumbing under a sink. We adopted best practice flow dynamics not from any medical benchmark but from companies such as Toyota. These design elements, critical to the achievement of best medical outcomes, are largely hidden from view.

     The look of our “sink” is where it is obvious that we are committed to enhancing the experience of every patient who visits Skyvision. There is a great amount of research that analyzes our response to spaces and we took advantage of much of this. For example, older folks are uncomfortable walking over a floor with circles in the pattern of the carpet; it makes them feel unsteady. We had a BEAUTIFUL carpet with circles of various sizes, shapes and colors picked out, but this research prompted us to change the pattern. We utilized darker, richer colors on all of the surfaces for a soothing visual experience. Patients routinely complain about crowding and waiting in medical offices. We solved the waiting problem through our adoption of Toyota’s flow processes. We solved the sense of crowding by building an office with multiple small sitting areas. The entire office has 12 foot ceilings, and all of the hallways are extra wide giving a sense of open space throughout—elbow room included!

     The design elements in the main Skyvision Center were chosen to enhance every aspect of our patients’, our customers’ experience. The ‘hidden’ architectural elements that promote efficient and accurate flow through the office maximize our ability to achieve outstanding medical outcomes. The look and feel of the office is designed to help us provide an enjoyable experience each time a patient visits us. Both the hidden and the visible architectural elements are indicative of our commitment to both our mission and our audience.”

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