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Three Benefits of Using On/Off Stage Design in Healthcare

Jeannie Cullen Schultz

September marked the 2nd Annual ACHE Wisconsin Chapter conference, held in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.  JP Cullen sent key employees to the conference, which offers many learning opportunities about the intersections of the healthcare and construction industries.  This year, Jeannie Cullen Schultz – JP Cullen’s Healthcare Construction Director – attended one such learning opportunity about the On-Stage/Off-Stage design that many hospitals and clinics are choosing to use, presented by Paul Widlarz and Kara Freihoefer with HGA.

What is On-Stage/Off-Stage Design?

In a hospital setting, On-Stage/Off-Stage design refers to a shift towards client comfort and efficiency, where patients and family members are exposed to the waiting area and the exam rooms in clinics, and the “behind the scenes” areas of the clinic are kept away from both sight and foot traffic.  Patients wait in a designated waiting area, not unlike the conventional linear design, but then are taken to an exam room without having to walk through hallways that hospital staff use.  Hospital staff, instead, uses hallways, meeting rooms, and collaborative spaces that are not visible to the public.

This is extremely beneficial to both patients and hospital staff in three ways:

  • Patients spend less time walking to and from waiting areas to exam rooms
  • Patients have a more streamlined experience
  • Healthcare providers have a space to collaborate and communicate that is private while still convenient to the exam rooms and the patients

In a study conducted by HGA  – a design firm JP Cullen has partnered with in the past with clients such as Froedtert & the Medical College, UnityPoint Health-Meriter, and Mercy Hospital & Trauma Center – patients reported higher perceived privacy and lower wait times in the On-Stage/Off-Stage design model, while staff travel distance was greatly reduced, and communication improved.

Sounds great, right?  The good news is that JP Cullen is already involved in several projects that utilize this On-Stage/Off-Stage design. The UW Medical Foundation Union Corners Clinic is nearing completion in Madison, Wisconsin, and the Elmbrook Memorial Hospital Waiting Room in Milwaukee, Wisconsin completed in 2012.

Check out other healthcare projects JP Cullen has completed!


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