9 Considerations For Optimizing Your Medical Office Building Space Plan

If you’re new to medical office development, you’d be surprised by how drastically the landscape has changed over the years. In the past, medical office buildings were strictly constructed to accommodate a multitude of independent physicians or medical practice groups.

This facility design called for long hallways connecting various individual suites. Each suite was designed to function independently with its own entrance, patient waiting rooms, exam rooms, laboratories, storage closets, physician offices, restrooms, etc.

As you can imagine, this leads to a lot of design overlap and duplication. New medical office building designs, however, facilitate better support for physician integration and collaboration. Contemporary healthcare facilities are now designed to connect interdisciplinary practices. This means creating centralized common areas with larger main entrances, reception areas, and waiting rooms.

Whether you’re looking to construct a multidisciplinary practice or have something totally new in mind for your medical office building project, there are nine essential details to consider when optimizing your space.

Consideration #1: Building Codes

The chances are good that building codes aren’t your area of expertise. And there’s no reason they should be! However, understanding building codes is essential to any construction project.

Under the International Building Code, a medical office building is considered a “business-use” structure. Who your client is insured by and intends to bill for services rendered in your facility will come in to play when considering building codes.

For example, if the client expects to bill against Medicare/Medicaid, the Facility Guidelines Institute (FGI) has outlined ‘Guidelines for Design and Construction of Outpatient Facilities,’ which must be adhered to. Such guidelines provide specific instruction on aspects such as minimum room sizes, plumbing fixture requirements, and additional safety measures. All of which, by the way, often come with additional costs.

Consideration #2: Building Usage Plan

Prior to selecting a contractor, it’s crucial to have an operational model in place. This entails day-to-day functional usage. Having a detailed operational model is essential for the design of your medical office building. Things to consider include:

  • A process for taking deliveries
  • Building maintenance such as trash collection
  • How patients and staff will enter and utilize rooms
  • The type of technology needed

Creating a detailed list of your requirements, goals, and desires for the project will be imperative for optimizing your final project design.

Consideration #3: Sound Requirements

As a medical facility, you’ll need to comply with FGI standards. In addition to construction and design guidelines, you will also need to comply with various acoustic remediation measures. Such requirements are based on room usage and locations.

Walls will be rated for a specific Sound Transmission Coefficient (STC) or Outdoor-Indoor Transmission Class (OITC). For example, a shared wall between an exam room and public waiting space will require a high STC. STC is essential for maintaining doctor-patient confidentiality under HIPAA and ensuring your building provides a peaceful environment. OITC refers to the background noise level or the transmission rate between interiors and exteriors of a structure.

Consideration #4: Natural Lighting

When you think about your medical office building, the first thing to come to mind probably isn’t windows. In fact, windows probably aren’t even the second or third thing that come to mind. However, if you’re working with limited space, one of the easiest ways to enlarge a space is by increasing the amount of natural light. This can be achieved by adding more windows. Windows also can be a calming feature for clients, allowing them views of nature.

Consideration #5: Building Material

Building material considerations are essential to any construction project. In many cases, FGI standards will govern what materials are permitted for your project when it comes to medical office buildings.

Depending on your type of operation, you may also face internal regulatory requirements imposing more restrictive materials and finishes. This can add additional costs to your project and should be investigated early on to avoid the installation of any unapproved materials.

Consideration #6: Mobilize

Another way to maximize space and increase room flexibility is with the use of mobile storage shelving. Mobile shelving allows you to create additional room space or storage as needed.

You can also install devices to help move equipment around for easier access. For example, extendable arms can be mounted on the wall and used to hold electronic devices such as monitors or tablets. Allowing clients better access to screens positively reinforce patient engagement.

Consideration #7: Optimize Space With Furniture

You may feel limited by options when it comes to furnishings; however, furniture arrangement can go a long way to encourage positive doctor-patient interactions. The shapes and types of tables and chairs, exam tables, and office equipment play a role in how well patients, doctors, and staff can move around a space.

All furniture and medical equipment should be strategically placed to allow for adequate eye-contact. From mounting computer monitors on the wall to the location of the examination table, many adjustments can be made to optimize the space you’re working with.

Even if you’re designing a new medical office building from the ground up, you still have specific parameters to follow and work within.

Consideration #8: Ease Anxiety

A crucial aspect of your project will be the overall feel you want to create for those visiting your facility. Positive design aspects can be incorporated to engage patients and alleviate client anxiety.

Utilizing appropriate space planning, acoustic control, air quality, daylighting, and access to nature can go a long way in calming a stressed mind. Additionally, the use of color, visual images, music, and digital media can provide positive distractions and help create a light mood.

Design aspects that have been found to leave negative impressions on visitors include stark color palettes, claustrophobic spaces, lack of daylight, and poor air quality. Such designs should be avoided.

Consideration #9: Work With Professionals

While you may excel at many things, optimizing your medical office building may not be at the top of your list. If you’re not confident in your ability to create the right atmosphere for visitors, design a functional yet aesthetically pleasing floor plan, or maximize space with the proper lighting, you may want to consider working with a professional.

Once you’ve nailed down your operational plan and have a general idea about what your facility will need to function, you’re ready to start shopping around for a commercial general contractor. This person or company will be responsible for overseeing the entirety of your project from start to finish.

To find the right contractor for your project, it’s recommended that you ask for references of previous jobs similar to yours. You’ll also want to do a little research on potential candidates to uncover any grievances or complaints. When possible, meet your prospective hires in person to get a feel for what it will be like working with them.

Once you’ve narrowed down your search to your top three candidates, it’s time to submit a request for a project bid. The more detail you can provide regarding your project, the more accurate your bid responses will be. You’ll want to carefully compare each submission to ensure the scope of work is fully understood.

The planning stage of your medical office building can begin once you have a written commitment signed by yourself and your selected general contractor. This is when the project really starts to take shape. During the planning stage, you’ll work with your contractor to lay out all of the project specifics and obtain necessary permitting and outside agency approvals. Having everything in place prior to the construction phase will help eliminate mistakes and keep your budget intact.

Experts You Can Trust

The Sacramento area has experienced an explosion in health care provider growth. Loder Construction has been at the forefront of this influx, supporting community health care needs. Our experienced staff understands every facility is a direct reflection of the doctors who run them, which is why we go the extra mile to make your medical office building dream a reality.

The dedicated team at Loder Construction works tirelessly to guide and assist you through every step of your project. We work hard to implement the most practical, functional, and innovative ways to get each job done. Additionally, our staff understands that providing your medical patients with personal care goes beyond one-on-one consultations. Providing clients with a peaceful office environment during their visit is an invaluable tool for patient care.

Loder Construction has developed and built numerous medical office building spaces, including:

  • dental offices
  • orthodontic offices
  • pediatric dental offices
  • oral surgery centers
  • general dentistry offices
  • testing laboratories
  • OSHPD 3 health care centers

In addition to ground up and custom builds, we provide space planning services, electrostatic spray sanitation, and installation of state-of-the-art smart technology. Our commercial general contractors and support staff have the know-how and experience your project deserves.

Loder Construction employs experts in medical office building who understand the importance of a continual working relationship for any big project’s success. We’ve been serving clients since the early 90s and recognize that trust and communication are essential aspects for every job we work on. If you need skilled general contractors in Sacramento that you can entirely rely on, our experienced team is up to the task.

To learn more about Loder Construction, request a bid for your project, or inquire about the services we offer, please contact us today! We pride ourselves on taking personal ownership of each project as if it were our own, and we can’t wait to show you what we’re capable of doing.


JJ Loder

He received his first hammer at 4 years old, not that he wanted one but, because he kept “borrowing” his father’s. Construction has been a part of his life and being raised as a six-generation carpenter, it came naturally. As a boy he visited his father and grandfather on their construction site, and he learned what was being built. High school and college summers were spent soaked in sweat, at the end of broom as his apprentice skills improved. After graduating from Fresno State with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2008, he started running small Tenant Improvements for Loder Construction and excelled in keeping projects on-time and on budget.