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Form follows function in cardboard office prototypes
Medical Group adopts lean design ideas to improve efficiency
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Jorge Pineda walks around on stilts taping the tops of the cardboard sheets together at Northeast Georgia Medical Center Medical Park 1 on Friday in Gainesville. Northeast Georgia Medical Center is building cardboard offices as an exercise that will allow for patient’s needs to be considered before the physician’s office is built. - photo by Erin O. Smith

In an effort to better design medical offices for efficiency and patient care, Northeast Georgia Physicians Group is building a couple prototypes — out of cardboard.

The cardboard offices will be on display this week at Northeast Georgia Medical Center Braselton and at the Northeast Georgia Physicians Group Medical Park 1 building in Gainesville, where the public is invited to come and offer feedback.

“For the first time ever, we are designing physician’s offices not based on architecture but based on patients and families,” said Karlie Vavrinek, administrative director at Northeast Georgia Physicians Group.

Using the philosophy of Lean Design — which incorporates certain principles that aim to eliminate waste in a given process — Dr. Philip Kimsey, a physician with the group, hopes to create a more streamlined and efficient approach “to increase patient satisfaction.”

“In addition, the medical staff and providers benefit from a more efficient work day,” Kimsey said. “Everyone benefits. When completed, these may be the first fully lean designed offices in Northeast Georgia.”

Added Kimsey: “By building these cardboard physician offices first, we are able to get feedback from other doctors, nurses, administrators and patients about optimizing the flow of the patient and staff through the office. An optimized flow will lead to a better patient experience and a more efficient work environment for the staff.”

The cardboard offices will be on display from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Braselton; and from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Friday on the second floor of Medical Park 1, 1315 Jesse Jewell Parkway, Gainesville. Each tour and feedback session takes about 30 minutes and snacks will be provided.

To participate in Northeast Georgia Physicians Group’s cardboard open houses and tour the mock up offices, visit

Northeast Georgia Physicians Group is affiliated with Northeast Georgia Health System, which serves more than 800,000 people in more than 13 counties.

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