Whats old is new again: 5 fads return to veterinary hospital design

August 26, 2016
Katie James, dvm360 Associate Content Specialist
Katie James, dvm360 Associate Content Specialist

Katie James is an Associate Content Specialist for UBM Animal Care. She produces and edits content for dvm360.com and its associated print publications, dvm360 magazine, Vetted and Firstline. She has a passion for creating highly-engaging content through the use of new technology and storytelling platforms. In 2018, she was named a Folio: Rising Star Award Honoree, an award given to individuals who are making their mark and disrupting the status quo of magazine media, even in the early stages of their careers. She was also named an American Society of Business Publication Editors Young Leader Scholar in 2015. Katie grew up in the Kansas City area and graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in journalism. Outside of the office her sidekick is an energetic Australian cattle dog mix named Blitz.

Architects Heather Lewis and Vicki Pollard shed light on trends they see returning to Americas veterinary practices.

While the term “fad” has a negative connotation, Vicki Pollard, AIA, CVT, and Heather Lewis, AIA, of Animal Arts, still like it. By definition, a fad is an “intense and widely shared enthusiasm for something.” That doesn't sound bad, right?

In their talk “5 design fads ready to come back in style” at the Veterinary Economics Hospital Design Conference at CVC Kansas City, Lewis and Pollard detailed five things they think will burst back onto the design scene soon.

1. Radical removal of barriers

Veterinary hospitals are more open through the use of open floor plans and lots of glass. When privacy is an issue, a textured class or semi-opaque glass can be used.

2. Return of the entrepreneur

The rise of the millennial practice owner has led to unique business models, a push for new technology, such as Tigertext, a secure messaging platform for collaboration and communication between team members, and new services like rehabilitation or alternative medicine techniques.

3. Individualized patient care

You've heard it before: Cats are not small dogs, and they shouldn't be treated as such. Species-specific reception areas, exam rooms, wards and treatment areas are going a long way in lowering stress for patients.

4. Energizing spaces

Using interior design to connect and re-energize your clients and staff throughout the day is becoming much more common. Consider the increased use of lighter and brighter areas through the creation of volume (for example, higher ceilings), bright, cheery colors, and natural light. (Bonus tip: One of the fastest (and free!) ways to energize your practice is to declutter everything, Pollard says.

5. Influence of shelter medicine

“Ten years ago, if I'd brought up shelter medicine in a lecture, I would have received a lot of push back,” says Lewis. But today, veterinarians should-and are-thinking much more about how to work with shelters or pets that have been housed in shelters. Sometimes-unvaccinated and/or sick pets come into the shelter and then are adopted out. These shelter pets wind up in your practice with their new owner, where they could get your current patients sick, they say. Some shelters are even going as far as to add a clinic to their campuses these days.