QA+M Pulse

The Client Perspective: Healthcare Design
January 13, 2021

We recently chatted with client Donna Rizzio, CEO of Hartford Orthopedic Surgeons, about the multiple healthcare locations designed by QA+M. Our design solutions needed to fulfill her mission to demonstrate Hartford Orthopedic’s level of care through supportive and welcoming places. In this conversation, we reflected on how design influences the practitioner and patient experience. Here’s what she had to say:

QA+M: Can you share examples of patient and practitioner satisfaction related to design?

Donna: Absolutely. We gave much thought to each location, its clientele, and practitioners. The facility design contributes to the overall patient experience and ultimately their pleasure with our practices. The non-clinical welcoming environments decreases patient nervousness. Patients are pleasantly surprised by the ambiance of each facility. Paint color names are often requested by patients – a true testament to their fondness for the interior if they want to bring the office’s colors home!

At the Avon site, a new provider was hired, Dr. Yannopoulos. Wanting him to feel especially welcome and giving a nod to his heritage, we selected artwork with Greek and Mediterranean vistas to create a soothing experience for the doctor and patients alike. In Manchester, the theme relied on sports imagery, tying into this location’s specialty for treating sports related injuries. And because nature is known to be calming and restorative, the Rocky Hill location includes coastal elements. The specificity in the design translates into the level of thoughtful care.

QA+M: How do you think layout effects the patient and provider experience?

Donna: The patient experience is hinged on the thoughtful placement of patient centric spaces such as the check in and check out desks, restrooms, and exam and X-ray room proximity to the waiting areas. Combined with strategic placement of signage, patients can easily navigate each site regardless of layout. The proximity of exam and procedure rooms to physician and medical assistant workspaces provides efficiencies for staff, resulting in reduced waiting time for patients. The layout of the facility ultimately projects confidence and ease for patient care.

QA+M: From initial space planning, interior finish selections, through construction to final occupancy, what is your favorite part of the design process?

Donna: It’s actually the entire process. From working lunches to discussing possible sites to test fitting possible layouts, to interior finish and artwork selection. Each experience is meaningful. I love when the floor plan is worked out and feels “just right.”

QA+M: What was the most challenging aspect of the design process?

Donna: Timing the move-in dates and coordinating all the details required to get the site up and running. Everything from the final construction punch list to furniture and equipment and IT delivery and set-up must be carefully timed and planned for minimal patient disruption. If a location is moving from one facility to another, the lease ending schedule must be carefully planned and maintained.

QA+M: Which site and design are you most proud of?

Donna: They all turned out fantastic and I must admit the Rocky Hill location is my favorite. It was the third office we collaborated with QA+M on and it includes a progression of ideas and standard design tenets that were incorporated in previous facilities.

After reflecting on Donna’s insight and experience, we’re reminded that design isn’t just about function. And it’s not just about appearance either. It’s about how both of these things together make you call to mind the reason they were deliberately planned.


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QA+M Architecture is a full-service architectural firm that provides programming, planning and interior design for clients in commercial, community, education, healthcare, historical, housing, and recreational/athletic markets. Staffed by 34 dedicated professionals, including 14 licensed architects, QA+M has grown to be the 4th largest architectural firm in the Greater Hartford area.


195 Scott Swamp Rd, Farmington, CT 06032


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