Creating a physical environment policy for private practice

Katherine Ellison
Katherine Ellison
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Introduction

Healthcare practices are often busy places; filled with both patients and practitioners who have their own schedules and personal needs. Considering the speed with which things occur in a healthcare business, it is absolutely essential that your practice has a physical environment policy, to ensure everyone is as comfortable as possible. One of the best methods to improve the organization and general atmosphere of a healthcare business is through the implementation of practice management software that can streamline tasks and generate progress reports. In addition to this type of system, however, it’s time that you sat down and composed an effective and well-thought-out physical environment policy.

Impact of physical environment on improving healthcare

When people think of healthcare, they often only consider actual treatments, services, and procedures. However, there is a lot more that goes into patient and practitioner experience, and it all begins with the physical environment of the practice. In addition to managing Patient Average Visit (PVA) and ensuring your patients love your waiting room, establishing a positive physical environment has the following benefits:

Lowering infections among staff

Healthcare facilities are likely to contain airborne and surface contaminating diseases that can be quickly transmitted from patients to staff. To reduce and hopefully prevent these occurrences from happening, it is important that your healthcare practice has an effective ventilation system, regular cleaning and handwashing protocols, and takes sanitation seriously.

Lowering work-related injuries

Additionally, a good physical environment at work will reduce the likelihood of work-based injuries. This means the interior placing of equipment or devices needs to take into consideration accessibility issues, and staff should be encouraged to maintain good posture and take regular breaks from their computers to minimize the risk of neck and back injuries. 

Increasing effectiveness of the healthcare team

Ultimately, thinking carefully about the physical environment of your healthcare business will improve the effectiveness of your professional operations. With reduced sickness and injuries, you will notice a decrease in staff absenteeism and a significant improvement in the general work culture.

Creating a physical environment policy for private practice

So how exactly can you create a physical environment policy for your healthcare business? There is a wide range of different ways you can go about this, but we’ve done some research and separated the policy into three main areas:

Physical spaces

Firstly, you need to take a look at your physical spaces. As we mentioned above, effectively positioning equipment and ensuring staff is informed about work-related injuries will reduce the likelihood of endangering anyone’s health. In regards to your waiting room, you should focus on making it light and accessible and enforce cleanliness to ensure patients have a comfortable waiting experience. This is applicable even to practices that use telehealth services, which should also be implementing specific strategies to create a visually appealing telehealth background. In a physical setting, there should also be clearly displayed signs indicating where the bathrooms, reception desk, and treatment rooms are.

Practice resources

A typical healthcare practice will require the use of a wide range of resources. You should have a waste process in place that not only encourages the separation of recycling and general waste but also identifies how to appropriately dispose of contaminated materials. Additionally, treatment areas will likely use both linen and towels, and these need to be cleaned thoroughly after each use and disposed of after a certain period of time. Managing these components of your business will ensure that the space is clean, tidy, and appealing to patients.

Processes

Although your practice will have a cleaning team come in every night to properly sanitize the facilities, there are certain processes that need to be completed during the working day. This includes cleaning every piece of equipment after it has been used so that the next patient is being treated with sanitary tools. Practitioners and administrative staff should also be frequently washing their hands, and placing hand sanitizer in the waiting room for patient use. 

Growing a private practice

Tips to create a good physical environment policy for your practice

Now you know what areas to focus on when implementing a physical environment policy at your practice, let’s take a look at some specific tips that should make the implementation process as seamless as possible.

Focus on decluttering

Businesses accumulate things, and whilst this is a natural aspect of working in a physical space, decluttering can significantly improve the visual component of your workspace. You should conduct regular decluttering sessions and request all staff members to clean their offices and treatment rooms. Given that the reception desk is one of the first things that a patient will see (and first impressions always count) it is a good idea to keep this space entirely free of unnecessary items.

Maintain a good environment

The atmosphere at your workplace says a lot about the type of business you operate. It is important that your staff members know how to communicate with each other and are considerate and professional at all times. A positive work environment will reduce absenteeism, boost morale, and most importantly, indicate to patients that your practice is cohesive and organized. When you are implementing your physical environment policy, you need to consistently think about whether or not these changes will improve the general atmosphere. If not, rethink your strategies and try to find specific changes that will lead to a good work environment.

Make safety a priority at all times

Safety always comes first. You and your staff should be kept informed on possible workplace risks and haphazards and how these can be avoided. Prioritizing safety is also highly applicable to the patient experience - it should also improve the management of your patient waiting experience

Take home message

Although the actual delivery of treatment and procedures is definitely an important part of healthcare, you should never underestimate the value of having a positive physical environment. Implementing protocols and policies to improve your practice’s environment will not only benefit practitioners, but it serves as a highly effective strategy for generating patient loyalty. A good healthcare experience takes into consideration every component of the healthcare process - and this includes checking in at reception, spending time in the waiting room, and observing the general surroundings as well as the actual service. Each of these factors is highly dependent on the physical spaces that a patient occupies, so it is very important that you invest time and resources into creating a positive physical environment policy at your healthcare business.

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