Why is it important to use a firm that specializes in medical office design? 

Working with a firm that specializes in designing medical and dental offices and has demonstrated experience in doing so provides assurance that professionals designing your office are familiar with the many governing factors which influence medical office design including:  community health codes, fire codes, HIPAA/privacy issues and local building codes.

A firm that has experience in designing medical offices and buildings will know what questions to ask to make sure that your office not only functions for optimum efficiency, productivity and patient satisfaction, but that it is compliant with all codes and regulations.  Designing to meet these requirements from the very beginning will help you avoid costly mistakes, oversights and delays once the project is underway.

Isn’t all office design the same?

No. There are a lot of variables to consider.  It’s not just a matter of number of occupants and square footage required to accommodate them.  For example, depending on the type of practice you have, you may need more space to accommodate a higher rate of patient traffic than someone who performs lengthy, in-office procedures and sees fewer patients.

It’s not just the size of your staff, but staff functions which are important.  When each person has the space and equipment they need to do their job, and they’re not getting in each other’s way, everyone works more efficiently and enjoys job satisfaction.  That leads to less employee turnover and a more productive office. An experienced medical office designer will take all of this into consideration when designing your new office space or building.

Can I use any architectural designer for my office?

No.  Not unless it’s a firm that is experienced in healthcare facilities design.  If architectural design is included to “sweeten the deal” for your lease, insist that the architectural designer chosen are specialists in medical office design who will also provide you with proper space planning, programming a complete set of construction documents that meet building codes and specifications.

A basic schematic design of the layout is completely inadequate and is a recipe for disaster when it comes to determining realistic construction costs and completing the office on-time and on- budget, in compliance with all regulations and codes. Keep in mind that the office space plan and design will have a positive or negative effect on the success of the practice or facility for the duration of its use – usually 10 or more years.

How do I know if the office I’m considering will be right for my practice?

You won’t know for sure until you meet with a qualified architectural designer and space planner who can assess the space, determine with you what your needs are in terms of space and traffic flow, and who will also evaluate to building to see what, if any, structural features need to be considered when laying out the space.

Anticipated future growth of the practice, as well as current needs, must be considered. When you are making a substantial investment in relocation and/or a new facility, it’s important to make sure that it will accommodate the future growth of your practice over the time you expect to be in the office.

What are the important considerations I should make when deciding on a new office?

If you are planning a move because you think you’ve outgrown your present office, it’s a good idea to meet with an experienced medical office designer before beginning the office search to see if that’s really the case.  Perhaps your current office can be remodeled to be more efficient.

The designer will know how to evaluate your space, based on how you use it and current design trends, to determine if you truly do need more space, or if a re-design would make your current office more efficient to comfortably accommodate your practice.

Isn’t any architectural designer qualified to design a medical or dental office or building?

No. Unless you are dealing with a firm that specializes in medical and dental office design, or who has a specialist in these fields on staff, you can not be assured that you are working with someone who is up-to-date and qualified to deal with the many unique specifics of medical facility design.  That could lead to costly mistakes and delays in your project.  Remember, it costs just as much to build a poorly designed medical facility as it does a good one.

Just as there are specialists in healthcare there are specialists in design. All architectural and interior designers are not alike.  That is why it is essential to work with an architectural designer who specializes in healthcare facilities design when planning your new medical or dental office and/or building.

Do I need a professional interior designer?

Yes. Aside from the obvious creativity and training a professional interior designer will bring to your project, he or she will also have extensive experience and knowledge about appropriate products, as well as their quality and costs.  Professional interior designers have vast resources which are not available to the general public.  Designers who specialize in healthcare office facility design save time and money, while providing a distinctive,code compliant aesthetically pleasing  environment.

Working with a firm who also has an in-house interior design staff improves the efficiency of your project and assures smooth, open communication throughout the process – from concept to completion.

Should my staff have input in the design process?

Absolutely.  Especially your office manager and key personnel.  They are on the front lines every day.  They know how the office functions at every level.  They know what areas work smoothly and which need improvement. In fact, the information your staff provides about the way your office operates and functions is often invaluable to the effective design of a new facility.

An experienced medical office designer will want input from staff about all of the essential office functions and amenities so that they can effectively be factored into the new design for optimum efficiency, satisfaction and productivity.  Ultimately that will all contribute to better profitability for the practice.

If I know exactly what I want, can’t I just get bids from contactors to do the construction and manage the job by myself?

No.  Not unless you want to face costly surprises and delays.  Without a complete set of plans and specifications provided by a qualified healthcare facilities architectural designer, it is likely contractors won’t be bidding on what is actually required for the job. 

Some contractors will bid just to get the job, whether or not they are qualified to construct medical facilities.  They may not be familiar with the specialized electrical, plumbing or structural work medical equipment requires.  Without professionally prepared construction documents, they won’t know codes and requirements which will force changes, delays and cost overruns.

The best way to make sure that your healthcare design and construction project is completed without surprises, is to use a firm that specializes in healthcare design and design/build services.  This assures smooth communication and completion on-time and on-budget in compliance with building codes and requirements.

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