Many hospitals and health systems are trying to snag a piece of the alternative medicine market. With consumers demanding alternative therapies and some insurers now covering them, it makes sense for providers to broaden their product lines to include such therapies as herbal remedies, massage therapy and yoga.
One aspect of alternative medicine that some providers may have overlooked is the design of the care setting. Design elements can bolster the effectiveness of alternative therapies, says Annette Ridenour, president and founder of Aesthetics, a design group based in San Diego. Most hospital rooms and clinics are uncomfortable and don't help patients relax.
Ridenour suggests incorporating design elements such as art, therapeutic sound, color, light, feng shui, gardens and water.
"When balanced, the healthcare environment brings harmony to patients and caregivers alike," she says. That is true for all healthcare facilities, not just alternative medical centers, Ridenour adds.
In the past four years, Aesthetics has designed and completed two alternative medical centers for the Arizona Center for Health and Medicine in Phoenix, and is completing another for St. Mary's Healthcare Services in Grand Rapids, Mich.
"Working with Aesthetics was a very positive experience," says Debbie Benson, clinic manager at Arizona Center. "Some of the artwork they chose for our clinic was very expensive but definitely top-notch."
The cost for using Aesthetics at the Phoenix location was about $100 per square foot.
Arizona Center offers both traditional and nontraditional medicine but emphasizes the nontraditional, offering services such as acupuncture, osteopathic manipulation, homeopathic manipulation and herbal remedies.
Aesthetics has also worked with Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, a Kaiser Permanente facility in San Diego and Mount Sinai Hospital Medical Center in Chicago.