4 Trends Shaping Healthcare Furniture Design

Furniture for clinics and medical facilities has to be functional. Appearance counts – buyers want items that are attractive and up to date – but practicality is what’s driving current trends in the field of medical furniture design.

“Buyers consider all of the features that make an item of furniture suitable for their clinic or office,” said Chad Dunbar, vice president of Custom Comfort Medtek, an American manufacturer of blood draw chairs, exam tables and a range of other medical furniture products. “Innovations in usefulness and sustainability are garnering more interest now. Buyers also have their clients’ needs in mind, which has meant increased demand for certain types of furniture, including items for bariatric patients.”

Buyers of medical furniture have these four characteristics at the top of their wish list:

Furniture Has To Be Easy To Keep Clean

Germs and bacteria thrive in cracks and crevices, so medical furniture has to be not only easy to clean but also able to withstand the disinfectants necessary for environments exposed to multi-drug-resistant organisms.

Non-porous surfaces, rounded corners and clean lines help make sure that housekeeping staff can reach all surfaces that need to be cleaned. Chairs with space between the backs and seats also help facilitate cleaning. For coverings, vinyl is preferred over most other fabrics. Metal chair legs also are a popular option.

Wood used to be the standard material for many medical furniture items, but many leading designers and hospitals no longer specify it because it is difficult to disinfect.

Custom Comfort offers 32 different choices of medical-grade vinyl and 27 high-pressure laminates that make cleaning easier and more efficient.

Comfort And Ergonomics Count

Medical furniture has to be comfortable and functional for both patients and medical professionals. The focus used to be almost entirely on patients, according to Health Facilities Management magazine, “but today more furniture solutions accommodate the caregiver as well.

“Improving ergonomics for hospital staff means designing furniture that supports efficiencies in workflow, while protecting employees from physical stress and injuries.”

Patient chairs with slightly higher seats mean nurses don’t need to bend as far or as often, the article explains, which reduces stress for practitioners. Furniture that allows medical professionals to elevate and recline patients or to transfer patients from one point to another more easily also reduces the risk of harm to the caregiver.

Ideally, furniture should offer safe, efficient interactions for both patients and practitioners.

Patient Size Is Important

An estimated 40 percent of Americans are obese, according to government data cited in a recent New York Times article. The trend has led to a variety of changes in healthcare furniture.

Furniture size and structure are changing to accommodate a wider range of users. Seat heights of 17 inches or higher and seat backs of at least 15 inches are becoming the norm. Chair arms also may be positioned differently or be adjustable to allow patients to access the chair more easily or position themselves comfortably during procedures.

“Chairs come in a variety of seat widths, and weight capacities have increased,” according to an article on Buildings.com. “Facilities are finding that bariatric furniture is a necessity not just for patients receiving bariatric treatment, but also for an increasing percentage of the general population.”

Safety and comfort are prime concerns for bariatric patients. For instance, buyers expect donor beds to offer full body support and even distribution of weight, as well as contoured leg areas for additional back support. Depending on the specific model, donor beds may have weight capacities up to 700 pounds. Some blood draw chairs are rated for patients up to 1,000 pounds.

Designing furniture for bariatric use is about more than size, however.

“Furniture designed for the bariatric patient population needs to accommodate both the weight and the frailties of the patient — for example, how a patient fits between fixed points, such as chair arms,” according to Health Facilities Management. Incorrectly sized chairs or other furniture can create pressure points on sensitive skin and lead to ulcers, the article points out.

Furniture Has To Have Longevity – And An Afterlife.

With budget considerations in mind, medical furniture buyers expect their purchases to be durable and long lasting. They also look for items that are sustainably sourced and manufactured and that can be recycled when no longer needed.

Products should be not only well made but also come with substantial warranties, sometimes up to 10 to 12 years, according to Health Care Design magazine.

Replacing furniture is not cost effective, so parts that show wear and tear – arm rests, for instance – should be easily replaceable.

“Renewable components can greatly extend the life-cycle of a piece of furniture, so renewable furniture will not only reduce waste, but will also benefit your bottom line,” according to an article on Buildings.com.

In healthcare, innovation and change are constants. Medical furniture manufacturers understand how to keep up with trends in the field to provide the most effective options for healthcare providers and their patients.

About Custom Comfort Medtek

Established in Central Florida in 1987, Custom Comfort Medtek manufactures specialty medical furniture and related products designed to meet a variety of clinical needs all around the world. Visit the CCM website to view the digital catalog or contact the company directly at 800-749-0933.

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