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Optimizing Space Case Report: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

At the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Obstetrics and Gynecology Department, form did not follow function. The department, which is located away from the main clinic, had traditional offices, narrow hallways, and closed doors. The space did not reflect the department's collaborative culture. In response, the team looked to Google and Apple for space designs that inspired function and collaboration, and hired an architect to model opportunities. The department also collected data on the current usage of rooms and offices within the department. The results? The data showed that under the current space configuration, one third of the office space was rarely used.

In the new space design, physician offices were eliminated. Walls were torn down to create an inviting, co-located space for all members of the team. To build team culture and address privacy needs, team rooms were created within steps of each desk in the open workspace. An electronic booking pad in each team room facilitates communication and efficiency when reviewing patient scheduling. The glass doors encompassing the team rooms are glazed over to provide visual and auditory privacy. The department space is designed so that team members walk through all the common areas in order to access the team rooms and workspace, organically creating opportunities for interaction. This schematic helped the department achieve its goal to improve access between front-line team members and clinic leaders.

The Obstetrics and Gynecology Department found that the renovation made it easier to recruit staff with the right cultural fit. Hope Ricciotti, MD, Department Chair, shares advice for any practice considering practice redesign:

  1. Consider your workflow.

  2. Have an architect match the workflow.

  3. Consider privacy and proximity issues.

  4. Maintain a quiet room for staff who are unable to work in the open environment or for silent work activities.

  5. Consider renovation expenses. Often, optimal space design is best suited for those building new workspaces. Pursue smaller changes until larger-scale redesign can be accomplished.

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