Exploring the Effects of Clinical Exam Room Design on Communication, Technology Interaction, and Satisfaction.

Research paper by Zahra Z Zamani, Esperanza C EC Harper

Indexed on: 06 Feb '19Published on: 06 Feb '19Published in: HERD


This article evaluates the effects of technology integration and design features in clinical exam rooms on examination experiences, communication, and satisfaction. Exam room features can affect the delivery of patient-centered care and enhance the level of communication, which has been shown to directly impact clinical outcomes. Although there has been an increasing body of literature examining design and patient-centered care, little research has evaluated the extent to which information sharing and electronic health record (EHR) interaction are impacted. The research randomly allocated 22 patients, 28 caregivers, and 59 clinicians to simulated clinical encounters in four exam room mock-ups with semi-inclusive, exclusive, and inclusive layouts (128 sessions in 32 scenarios). Video recordings of the simulations were coded for clinician gazing, talking, and EHR-interaction behaviors. Participants also completed surveys and answered open-ended questions after experiencing each scenario ( N = 362). Semi-inclusive rooms with a triangular arrangement of consultation table, sharable screens, exam table, and caregiver chair were highly preferred as they supported conversation, gazing, and information sharing. The inclusive layout had higher durations of EHR interactions and enhanced viewing and sharing of EHR information. However, this layout was criticized for the lack of clinician-shared information. The exclusive layouts impeded information sharing, eye contact, and constrained simultaneous data entry and eye contact for clinicians. The distance and orientation between chair, exam table, curtain, and door were important for protecting patient and family comfort and privacy. Characteristics and configurations of design qualities and strategies have a key role on examination experiences, communication, and satisfaction.