Waiting for a medical appointment is one of those things that is utterly annoying and nerve-racking. As a patient, many thoughts go through your head:
Will everything be okay? What will the doctor say?
It is important to take these thoughts and concerns into account and create a better experience in the waiting room in order to calm the patient's
Research has proven that a well-designed waiting room can
change how patients feel about the care that they are receiving and streamline the care process. Here are six ways that you can improve the waiting
areas at your hospital:
1. Comfortable seating: It is bad enough to be sick, and then on top of that be crammed in a tiny, uncomfortable chair. A modular seating system called
MODU incorporates movable armrests and seating pads that let individuals determine what is comfortable for them.
2. Manageable queues: Using the "take a number" system makes people feel like they can't leave the area and it isn't very personal. Featuring wait-time
displays in multiple places is a better idea than having the queue planted in one place. There is also an iPhone app called "Inline" that reveals queue
3. Clear medical records: Many medical records are now digital, but there is also a low-tech way to ensure that your patients are managing their own
health. FOLIO allows patients to store their medication lists and appointment dates in paper wallets that can easily be taken with them to the doctor's
4. Healthy food: It is pretty ironic to go to a hospital or doctor's office and all there is to eat from a vending machine is a bag of chips, M&Ms
and soda. Instead, have a vending machine that dispenses water, apples and other nutritious snacks as your patients wait.
5. Welcoming signage: Make the office seem warmer and personal with welcome boards that show pictures of the doctors on duty and post information about
healthy activities and classes at the hospital.
6. Communal space: Communal tables can help reduce patients' anxiety in the consultation rooms, especially if there is a large family. Instead of
having your patient sit on an examination table with a gown on, perhaps your patient could meet you at a big table with his/her clothes on.
Taking these six suggestions into account for your waiting room will create a better experience for those you care most about: your patients.
Rachel Digman is comptroller at Smith and Jones. This article first appeared here.