Vantage Answers Your Healthcare Technology Questions
Because we are involved in many new hospital design projects and are closely following the healthcare technology space, Principal Phil Crompton regularly fields questions from our architect clients in the healthcare space.
Healthcare Design Question – What’s the Impact of Telehealth on the Design of Exam Rooms?
Here is a question we received recently:
“We know that telehealth will be having more impact in the ambulatory care setting in the future. Up to now, we have been suggesting that each exam room should have telehealth capability.
- What design, room types and room sizes are you seeing to support telehealth use cases?
- Are you seeing smaller rooms, a large room with multiple telehealth stations or something different?”
Healthcare Design Answer – from Phil Crompton
Generally, we are not seeing much impact on the size or type of exam rooms from telehealth requirements or where hospitals are turning existing exam rooms into telehealth rooms.
One recent trend has hospitals setting up telehealth capabilities in a fast-track exam room so doctors can help or assist with emergency room throughput from their offices. Hospitals are preparing for this trend by setting up telehealth rooms for doctors – either in their office or in dedicated telehealth work rooms or suites.
The requirements for these telehealth work rooms include:
- Excellent acoustics – the most important factor in a successful video conference is the audio quality
- Appropriate lighting – because the wrong lighting can make for an unpleasant experience for the patient
- Video cameras
- High-quality microphones
- Video displays
You really don’t need anything complicated in a telehealth exam room. Assuming each room has a video display and a set-up that includes a video camera, microphone and speaker, there does not appear to be a need to enlarge or reduce the size of the room.
A recent article in FierceHealthcare on the explosion of telehealth tech use suggested that doctors and hospitals review how and when they want to use telemedicine and decide what kind of information should be communicated by video to guarantee patients receive compassionate care.
“If doctors and hospitals are going to use a video link, it better be perfect.”
In addition, if you are implementing multiple telehealth stations in a suite, you’ll need to make sure that each station is able to maintain the patient’s privacy and confidentiality.
Another requirement we’ve seen in some situations is to have “green screen” capabilities so an appropriate backdrop can be superimposed behind the doctor. We implemented green screen technology on a project for the Mayo Clinic where the doctors were in a different country and time zone but didn’t want to emphasize that fact to the patient. Essentially, this turns the telehealth room into a mini-production studio like the ones we design for educational clients to produce web-based lectures and class materials.