Recognizing the importance of having clinical end users involved early in the design process to test design solutions and ensure that the resulting facility will meet care delivery needs, a team of researchers recently delved into how varying design media affect that process.

Four methods were explored in “Comparing the Effectiveness of Four Different Design Media in Communicating Desired Performance Outcomes With Clinical End Users” by Deborah Wingler, Herninia Machry, Sara Bayramzadeh, Anjali Joseph, and David Allison, a study published in a recent issue of the Health Environments Research & Design (HERD) Journal.

The researchers wanted to gauge how floor plans, perspective images such as renderings, physical mock-ups, and virtual mock-ups helped clinicians understand aspects pertaining to functionality, work performance, spatial attributes, and aesthetic quality.

The team found more traditional solutions like floor plans and renderings convey limited useful information to end users, which impacted the amount of feedback they were able to provide. Conversely, more immersive mock-ups better supported a holistic understanding of the proposed space and its features, supporting end users in making decisions pertaining to location, position, and functionality of design elements.

Overall, while the study identified that a combination of these methods will contribute to a more effective design process, physical mock-ups, specifically, were the most effective design communication medium for achieving the desired results.

To read more, access to this article on the HERD website will be open to Healthcare Design readers until April 6 by visiting