Enhance Your Hospital's Palette: Using Color in Facility Design

Nov 13, 2018

color wheel

When people think of the history of color in hospitals, they often picture a completely white environment. White walls, white coats, and white sheets are synonymous with the healthcare field, but they are not the only colors that were historically used in hospitals. The healthcare field has a rich and diverse relationship with color, starting with its obsession with the metallic mint green used in many early instruments and facilities, due to the calming effect it was said to have on people. This color eventually evolved and made its way onto the scrubs of doctors and other healthcare professionals. 

Today, modern hospitals are filled with rich color palettes, avoiding the monotony of having one single color rule the halls and rooms of any one facility. This diversity provides a more comfortable and less anxiety-reducing experience for patients. 

The Effects of Color on People 

The scientific community has yet to agree on why we have different reactions to different colors. It’s unknown if our reactions to colors are because of their innate features or because we are conditioned to react a certain way because of our past experiences with each color. We are taught from a young age that bright colors (red in particular) are signs of warning. Red is used on stop signs and traffic lights, and red ink is used to markup schoolwork. In essence, red has become associated with danger and alertness, which often leads people to automatically feel anxious when seeing the color. 

On the opposite end of the color spectrum, blues and greens are often associated with nature and life and are known to have a calming effect on people. Whether this is because of nature or conditioning, the effects that different colors have on people are well documented.

How Hospitals are Using Color in Their Designs

Besides incorporating the colors of an organization’s brand into their facility, healthcare organizations are using color in hospitals help them achieve many things:

  1. Wayfinding: hospitals are large and notoriously complicated to navigate. Color is used to help patients and visitors get to where they need to go. Many facilities coordinate colors with certain areas of the hospital and use those colors on wayfinding signs and maps to make it easy for people to identify where they are and where they need to go.
  2. Reducing anxiety: it has long been known that cool colors help reduce anxiety, so, placing these in patient rooms is often an ideal way to make patients more comfortable during their stay.
  3. Promote action: children are more attracted to bright colors, and these colors don’t have the same anxiety-inducing effects that they have on adults. These colors are used in pediatric facilities to make children more happy, vigorous, and comfortable with their stay.
  4. Create art: sculptures, paintings, murals and other fine arts are found to have many beneficial effects on patients, including increased wellbeing and better pain tolerance. These same studies also found that art has a positive effect on hospital workers, as well.

Using Color on More than Walls

Everything inside a patient’s room has an effect on their comfort and wellbeing. When staying for long periods of time in a hospital, patients will get to know their surroundings quite well, and they will begin to pay attention to the smallest details within their room. That’s why it’s important for facilities and designers to pay extra attention to the finer details of every room. Every piece of furniture, down to the beds and patient room boards can make a difference. 

At VividBoard, we use color (and many other design features) to create custom healthcare whiteboards that stand out from every other product on the market. To learn how you can incorporate color and vibrant designs on your whiteboards, contact VividBoard today.