December 19, 2013
By Carol Kartje

For a twenty-something dashing in for an appointment…
The ideal point of pause might replicate the airport touch-down space with a perch with an outlet or USB port for their smart phone and ledge for coffee.

For a dad with a baby car carrier and sibling in tow…        
The ideal point of pause might be a bench to retie a shoelace and the engaging distraction of a whimsical kinetic sculpture after a tearful round of shots.

For an older couple with a walker arriving early for treatment… 
The ideal point of pause might be a cushioned seating alcove to rest and catch their breath with a garden view.

Beyond benches at the entry canopy for drop off and pick up, designers need to think about intentionality in integrating a series of responsive encounters that address the diverse spectrum of generational needs.  First, we need to ask the right questions. To create an ideal point of pause in a complex healthcare environment, it is important to understand:  Who is on the path to a healthcare destination? What about their generation or lifestyle, physical or emotional state of being will influence their needs and priorities?  What do they need to make the arrival and departure experience resonate?   What are potential points of disconnect or obstacles to interfere? What message does the organization want to share with all who pause?

For creating a responsive and respectful arrival and departure journey, functional and inspiring touch down points are often as easy as a series of alcoves with seating, ledges, garden features, and art enrichment.  Evidence supports the clear articulation of the primary pathway eases navigation to the patient care destination. Creating a comfortable day lit transition from outside to in, to special features at walls and ceilings, art, materials, flooring distinctions, and lighting and electronic connectivity. The primary pathway may be highlighted by expanses of glass that provide connection to nature and a  evidenced based design strategies that include access to natural light and the incorporation of art, sculpture and music have shown to support some of the primary needs of cancer patients according to  In addition, views to the outside can allow patients and families orient themselves along their journey.

Focusing on details such as creating purposeful l points of pause in healthcare environments has the positive power to reaffirm the organizational values, leaving each patient with the first and lasting impression and reaffirmation that “details matter” and “we care about you.”  From parking to entry canopy and throughout the primary public pathway it is essential to stitch together purposeful points of pause to create options and choice for each individual to personalize the journey, whether he or she is twenty-something, a dad and his young family or and older couple.  These touch down points offer a place to rest, rejuvenate, relax, calm, balance, sit, perch, collect belongings, confirm directions, engage the senses, and view or interact with gardens and art. The opportunity to value add to patient satisfaction is created by encouraging patients to choose the fast lane or stop and smell the roses as they wish.