6 maneras de mejorar el cuarto de espera

Six Ways To Improve Doctors’ Waiting Rooms

Spanish design consultancy Fuelfor shows how better design can reduce patients’ anxiety while they wait (and wait and wait) at the doctor’s office.

Waiting endlessly in a doctor’s office ranks up there as one of life’s premier annoyances, right alongside queuing up at the DMV and getting manhandled at airport security. Short of overhauling our overstretched health care system, though, the problem isn’t going away anytime soon. Luckily, design can make it a hell of a lot more tolerable.

So suggests Fuelfor, a Spanish design consultancy, which compiled a case study on “Rethinking the waiting room.” Research has shown that a well-designed waiting room — one that includes everything from comfortable chairs to clear signage to easy-to-use patient response forms — can bolster how patients feel about the care they receive and even streamline the care process itself. Fuelfor has identified six ways of dramatically improving waiting rooms. We’ve summarized them below:

Comfortable seating
Waiting when you’re sick is bad enough. Waiting in a crappy chair when you’re sick is downright galling. What’s more, what’s comfortable for one patient might be deeply uncomfortable, or even painful, for another. Fuelfor proposes a modular seating system, called MODU, that can be adapted to different offices and individuals. Movable armrests and seating pads with various amounts of cushion let people create their own little comfort zone. Planters keep the air feeling fresh and displays at the end of each bench apprise patients of their wait time. Acoustic separators eke out space for private phone calls.

Manageable queues
“Queue management displays in waiting rooms make people feel physically tied to one spot,” Fuelfor writes. Taking a number isn’t much better — it’s impersonal and disposable (not unlike your average doctor’s appointment). Fuelfor’s solution: feature wait-time displays prominently in multiple places, not just over the central counter. People who don’t want to hang around the waiting room can download Inline, a conceptual iPhone app that reveals their number in the queue with a clear, simple interface. It also lets patients book appointments, locate the room of their appointment, and track medications, among other health-management features.

Clear medical records
More and more, medical records are going digital, but Fuelfor suggests a low-tech alternative to ensure that people can simply and viscerally manage their own health. With FOLIO, patients store their medications and appointment dates in paper wallets that be thrown in a purse or back pocket and carted easily to the doctor’s office. At the office, they use the FOLIO info to fill out “Prepare,” a patient-response form that asks simple questions in a clear format designed to prevent mistakes. After the appointment, doctors fill out a separate “Remember” form that includes prescriptions and other health advice. It might sound like a lot of paperwork, but with good graphic design, it can actually feel pretty simple.

Healthy food
It’s always hilarious (in a depressing way) to see vending machines full of chips, candy, and soda at medical clinics that are supposed to be billboards for healthy living. Fuelfor conceived of a vending machine that dispenses water, apples, and other nutritious snacks while you wait. It’s even designed like a kitchen counter to emphasize the idea that smart eating starts at home.

Welcoming signage
Doctors’ waiting rooms can feel terribly impersonal and bureaucratic. To inject a modicum of humanity, Fuelfor recommends throwing up welcome boards that introduce the doctors on duty (complete with portraits, so they aren’t just faceless names) and post information about healthy activities and classes, like yoga for seniors and cooking lessons.

Communal space
Fuelfor says that communal tables can help reduce patients’ anxiety in a waiting room. We’re not totally sold on this one. People like privacy. Especially sick people. Then again, if you’re at the doctor’s office with your family, a large table where you can gather and discuss sensitive medical problems makes a lot of sense. It could also figure prominently during medical consultations (just as long as it isn’t, you know, too communal). Think about it: Instead of parking it on an examination table while your doctor dispenses advice that you can’t even pay attention to because you feel so awkward in your ridiculous little gown, you could meet at a big, roomy table — clothes on, dignity intact.

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Los 56 finalistas de “Innovation Design Awards” (Checar categorías)

Here Are All 56 Finalists In Our 2012 Innovation By Design Awards



Design isn’t the gloss applied at the end of the innovation process. Design is the innovation process itself. It begins with a keen insight into how people live and what they need; ideally, it ends with a product or service that’s so intuitive that it seems inevitable.

It’s in that spirit that we present our first Innovation By Design Awards. The 56 finalists you see here were culled from the over 1,700 entries we received. (Each was released in some form over the last year.) It’s a startlingly diverse group: Many projects shine a light onto the myriad problems that agile companies and hungry entrepreneurs are battling to solve. Others improve our lives in tiny, marvelously thoughtful ways. Some provide beauty in places where it’s seldom seen. And still others are designed to literally save lives.

Culling this group wasn’t easy. But we had outstanding help from a panel of 27 judges, each of them a star in their field. For now, the group you see represents only the finalists. (You can also see them in a feature package in our October issue, which is out today.) The winners of each category–as well as two Business Impact winners chosen by Fast Company–will be announced at a celebration on October 16. We hope you’ll join us, the judges, and the finalists.

And as you dip into the projects that follow, we hope you’ll be as inspired as we were. Thank you to all that entered, and made the awards possible. We hope to hear from you next year, and to see your work before then.




The finalists range from an electric bike by Ideo to the new Ford Fusion.




Many of the finalists suggest entirely new sorts of product ecosystems, such as the BioLite CampStove and the Nike+ Fuelband.




Our judging panel leaned heavily away from traditional branding and 2-D design, and put a focus on disruptive innovations in data visualization.




The finalists range from a clever hack that converts charity into impulse buys to the UPS package-delivery overhaul we’ve always wanted.




Some of these are amazingly fun, like the Numberlys by Moonbot Studios. Others, like the Painsquad app, solve pressing problems in ingenious ways.




The entries here were superb, and included a masterpiece by Steven Holl and a novel data center for Facebook.




A tour of some of the hidden design feats that make our economy tick.




Ideo imagines a future when bioengineering will be reduced to a household appliance, and Snohetta reimagines Times Square.




Could we rebrand bugs to make them palatable for Western tastes? And what is the future of the cubicle?


Cliff is an editor at Fast Company and the founding editor of its spin-off, Co.Design, which in 2011 won the National Magazine Award for best online …