HorizonTV Featuring BD+C: Watch Episodes On Demand At HorizonTV

Transforming the patient-clinician experience in retail healthcare: 5 'flips' to consider

Flip the Clinic is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation project invented to transform the patient-clinician experience. In their language, “flips” are actionable ideas for change, writes Gensler's Tama Duffy Day.

August 18, 2015 |
Gensler Dialogue Blog

Flip the Clinic is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation project invented to transform the patient – clinician experience. In their language, “flips” are actionable ideas for change. They offer over 60 flips on their website and here are two of my favorites: #57 Reach the Parents, Serve the Kids - which speaks to attaching clinics to elementary schools and the need for engaging the parents. #33 Provide context, improve understanding, and generate empathy between physician and patient – which resulted in a current twitter campaign (#IWishMyDoc and #IWishMyPatient) to increase shared understanding. I encourage you to engage and tweet your own thoughts on this topic.

As a designer, the campaign got me thinking: what other ways could healthcare providers leverage design to flip their clinics? Because the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has led to an increased number of newly insured patients, there is now a marked increase in the retail clinic model. Is there a way for existing healthcare providers to make the ‘flip’ to retail health that will increase health in our communities?

Before moving to Chicago from Washington, DC, I oversaw the programming, design and delivery of five unique Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) and their Community Health Center (CHC) counterparts in that region: Arlington Free Clinic, Community of Hope, Unity Health Care Center at Brentwood Square, Pediatric Specialists of Virginia and Whitman-Walker Health.

In brief, according to the National Association of Community Health Centers, the retail clinic model involves a small site, inside a retail store, that is staffed by a nurse practitioner and treats simple acute conditions. Variations of the retail clinic models for FQHC’s and CHC’s exist, but all five of the Centers listed above chose to focus on providing their services in a convenient location (but not in a retail store).

Below are five flips that are actionable items to consider when designing retail health strategies for Health Centers and were gathered from this experience.

1. Know the Financial Driver

At Whitman-Walker Health, the COO indicated that the success of their pharmacy was critical to the success of their Center. Period. Previously hidden within their clinic waiting area, their old pharmacy was crowded and not very retail focused. Knowing this, the design team placed the new pharmacy adjacent to the front door of the clinic. It was given significant retail “presence” in its branding with happy colors, and is visible from the active urban street. The results – increased foot traffic and sales the first week of opening – which has also driven an increase in clinic visits. Strategic design drives financial success.

2. Align the social brand with the physical brand

The Arlington Free Clinic had always been very caring and community focused. What it couldn’t imagine was that their physical space could and should align with this vision. It just hadn’t occurred to them it was possible within their means. Moving to a new location provided just that opportunity to re-imagine possibilities. With clear medical planning, right sizing their pharmacy and providing a healthy workplace for staff, their facility--now four years old—continues to inspire not only patients but also more than 500 clinic volunteers. A patient survey indicated that “100% responded that the new clinic space is light-filled and uplifting.” The project was accomplished on budget, was recognized for its sustainability by the Washington Business Journal, and was published in numerous design journals. All to say, design can be inspirational and affordable.

3. Education Drives Health

When the CEO of Community of Hope was asked to open up a clinic in Anacostia, an under-served area in SE Washington, DC, she recognized the need for community outreach and education along with providing a medical home (physical, mental and dental care). The initial test fit diagram given to us decentralized the educational program within each service line. To support community outreach and education, and stay within their established square footage, the educational elements were gathered together at the front of the building on the first floor to create one educational / conference area– visible to the community and passersby. This physical shift has allowed Community of Hope the space to host the Mayor, hold fund raisers, and offer community health educational venues. Community of Hope accomplished more than it set out to accomplish because design enabled it to invent a social incubator for health.


Image: Halliburton North Belt Child Development Center Lobby, Ryan Gobuty, courtesy GenslerOn


4. Flexibility is Key

Creating a universal patient room was the contributing success factor for both Unity Health and Pediatric Specialties of Virginia. Through sketches, renderings, mock-ups and testing, we established a universal room size and shape that would accommodate 99% of their needs: exams, dental operatories, behavioral health consultation rooms and pediatric care. This standard module provided for extreme flexibility in their staffing and operational models, which in turn allowed them to expand capacity and increase throughput, both of which are requirements in the new retail health model of care. Design provides opportunities for operational improvement.

5. Pay it Forward

The beauty is that all this learning is being carried forward. Our current work with UCLA, UCSD, Northwestern Medicine, Children’s National Health System, Children’s Pediatricians and Associates, and Mary’s Center benefit from these learnings. Our clients talk to each other, they compare results, they tour and determine if aspects of these Centers will align with their own operational and cultural lens. They measure, they look at our research, they determine their service lines, and their decisions impact the health of our communities. Design shapes healthy communities.

One size does not fit all when designing for retail health. Healthcare is uniquely personal and the care model as well as the facility itself should cater to each specific clientele. Log on to the flip the clinic website and engage. Let’s continue to develop and share actionable items for retail health change.

About the Author: Tama Duffy Day is a Principal and Firmwide Health & Wellness practice leader. She is dedicated to raising the awareness of the impact that design has on health. She can be reached at tama_duffyday@gensler.com and @TamaDuffyDay.

Gensler Dialogue Blog | Gensler

Published by Gensler, a global design firm with 5,000 practitioners networked across five continents, Gensler Dialogue Blog features insights and opinions of architects and designers on how design innovation makes cities more livable, work smarter, and leisure more engaging. Our contributors write about projects of every scale, from refreshing a retailer’s brand to planning a new urban district, all the while explaining how great design can optimize business performance and human potential. For more blog posts, visit: https://www.gensler.com/research-insight/blog.

Related Blogs

July 15, 2019 | Healthcare Facilities | GenslerAmy Carter, Bethany Callihan, and James Crispino

Below are five strategies to improve access and patient experience.

How the Internet of Things will transform airport environments

Auckland Airport — Auckland, New Zealand. Photo courtesy Gensler

May 20, 2019 | Airports | GenslerScott Gorenc, AIA, LEED AP, Senior Designer, Gensler

Connected devices and their wealth of data have led to significant improvements in operational efficiency a...

April 30, 2019 | GenslerDiane Hoskins

Our data reveal what is truly going on in the current workplace, with insights on how workplace design can...

It’s time for office amenities to get to work

At Campari Group’s new North American headquarters in New York, four distinct bar-like experiences offer more than just a place for employees and guests to blow off steam. Photo courtesy Gensler

April 08, 2019 | Office Building Design | GenslerAmanda Carroll, IIDA, CID, LEED AP, Workplace Leader, Principal, Gensler

Amenities with the greatest impact on effectiveness and experience are those that directly support the work...

How the built environment can help the climate crisis

Courtesy Pixabay

November 05, 2018 | Sustainability | GenslerAnthony Brower

Our buildings and cities will have to experiment with new climate responsive forms, and in many cases, the...

Leland Federal Building

The G.T. "Mickey" Leland Federal Building in Houston. Image © Joe Aker.

October 03, 2018 | Sustainability | GenslerChris Mundell And Maria Perez

Many companies are influenced by the misconception that only some projects can qualify as sustainable.

Comcast Studio Xfinity

For Comcast Studio Xfinity's new flagship in Washington, D.C., Gensler created an engaging experiential brand program that informed the store's interior design and created a warm, social, and inviting environment. Image © Chris Leonard.

September 17, 2018 | Retail Centers | GenslerRyan Cavanaugh

One way to solve for the future is to disrupt the expected.

August 27, 2018 | Office Building Design | GenslerJanet Pogue McLaurin

The degree of open or enclosed doesn't matter in high-performing work environments. If the space is designe...

The CSU Northridge Sustainability + Recycling Center

The CSU Northridge Sustainability + Recycling Center includes a rooftop photovoltaic system, which offsets the energy required to support the building's administrative functions. Glazed, north-facing overhead windows bring in natural light that enhances the work environment for staff and creates a daylight autonomous environment. The design eliminates the need for artificial light in the building during daylight hours. Ryan Gobuty, Image © Gensler.

August 06, 2018 | Energy | GenslerAnthony Brower

The architecture, engineering, and construction industry will have to make major adjustments in the years a...

A day in the life of an ‘agile worker’

A mix of sit-stand stations and collaboration areas support agile working. Image © Gensler/John Ryan.

July 18, 2018 | Office Building Design | GenslerJane Stull

When our Gensler La Crosse office relocated last year, we leveraged the opportunity to support an agile wor...

Overlay Init

Your card will be charged: 0