Much of our discussion about healthcare design has focused on the patient experience and workflow improvements, yet an often overlooked side of healthcare design is the physicians’ own workspace.

As with corporate workspaces, physicians’ workspaces are evolving to reflect a more mobile, technology-enabled workforce.

I was working with Rebecca Sanders, a healthcare planner at HGA, on a recent clinic design. We began discussing the evolution of the physicians’ workspace in terms of location and size. She noted that these clinical workspaces are taking design cues from the corporate world.

“With the movement toward less space, the traditional physicians’ office has evolved from a private closed-door space with a combined exam room to a more open and flexible workspace that focuses on collaboration and shared resources between caregivers,” she said.

As with corporate settings, a clinic may have no privately assigned office or workspace—rather they may have hoteling spaces or free addresses that doctors use as needed for the day. A physician splitting time between several clinics may touch down at an open-plan dictation station to update patient files after an exam.

The particular layout may vary from clinic to clinic, depending on programming needs and different cultural approaches to work styles.

And as with the corporate world, attitudes toward new workspaces can be generational.

“Often there’s a difference between newer physicians who more readily adapt to shared spaces and more established doctors who prefer private spaces,” Sanders added. “Younger doctors tend to be more connected to technology, less reliant on private offices, and more focused on collaborative spaces.”

A common concern among all physicians is a lack of personal privacy and a place to keep personal items such as diplomas, family pictures, books—essentially a space to call one’s own. Doctors also note that they are around people all day and need a quiet space for concentrated work or confidential phone calls.

Clinic design is responding with designated phone rooms, quiet rooms, and physicians’ lounges, as the overall workspace continues to evolve toward open, flexible plans.

“Telemedicine and new communication tools are promoting mobile exams and new ways to approach the traditional clinic building,” Sanders added. “Technology, changing demographics, and cost will continue to drive healthcare workspace design into the future.”