“Trends in Healthcare” is a recurring series that focuses on exciting new designs and technologies we’re seeing in healthcare projects and provides best practices on how to ensure that these latest trends are accessible to persons with disabilities. We build on the wealth of knowledge we gain from working with healthcare design teams, construction crews, and practitioners to provide practical solutions for achieving accessible healthcare environments.
And now for our first installment…Patient Check-in Kiosks!
Imagine that you are walking into the waiting room of your doctor’s office for your annual checkup. The waiting room is overflowing with people and the receptionists are answering phone calls, entering information into the computer, and taking care of the long line of patients ahead of you. That’s when, out of the corner of your eye, you see several touch screens located on a nearby counter. You’ve grown accustomed to self check-in kiosks at airports and theaters, but not at your doctor’s office. Eager to skip the long line, you make your way toward the digital devices. Hooray! Patient check-in kiosks have arrived!
The benefits of check-in kiosks are plentiful: patients have greater control over their registration process; insurance coverage is confirmed with a swipe of a card; and, information about cost-of-care estimates, including co-pay/deductible/co-insurance amounts, can be obtained. Check-in kiosks help to streamline the registration process and provide an improved patient experience. Despite the improved experience, you won’t find a chapter on “patient check-in kiosks” in the 2010 ADA Standards. So, how can we ensure that check-in kiosks are compliant with accessible design criteria? We simply apply the most appropriate criteria. For check-in kiosks, we apply criteria in the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Routes, Reach Range, and Sales and Service Counters.
The first question to ask is, “How many of the check-in kiosks must be made accessible?” From the scoping requirements for Sales and Service Counters, we find that at least one of each type of sales or service counter is required to be accessible. From that, we know that at least one of the kiosks must be accessible. If kiosks are provided for specific purposes, then an accessible kiosk for each purpose is required to be accessible. It is important to keep in mind that the sales and service counter scoping requires the minimum. Where it makes sense, all kiosks should be made accessible – or at least adaptable – to allow the greatest level of usability for all patients.
Other questions to ask include, but are not limited to: Is a 36 inch wide accessible route provided to the kiosk? Is there a 30 inch by 48 inch minimum clear floor space provided for persons who use wheelchairs to pull up adjacent to or beneath the kiosk? Are all operable parts of the kiosk within accessible reach?
When choosing to include self check-in kiosks, we must also consider the type of kiosk device being used. Is the kiosk device attached to a stand or located on a counter? If the preference is to have a device secured to a stand, then is the stand height low or adjustable so that all controls are within accessible reach? If the device is mounted on a counter, do the millwork design and shop drawings limit the counter height to 34 inches? Does the device have manual buttons or a touch screen? Does the size of the device allow for all controls to be positioned within accessible reach? Lastly, does the device include accessible software? While access and reach are vital for persons with mobility impairments, check-in kiosks must also be accessible to persons who have visual and other types of disabilities.
While new technologies like check-in kiosks provide additional options to patients, they often outpace current design standards. To ensure access, it is critical to ask the right questions and understand function and design. Keep your eyes out for our next “Trends in Healthcare” post, as we dive into the issues we have seen with nurse call mounting locations and strategies to get it right the first time around!
Written by Jennifer C. Low, Accessibility Consultant