Waiting rooms are an unavoidable aspect of healthcare delivery and short of reducing wait time, there are some quick and simple ways to help put your patients at ease, reduce their stress and even increase patient referrals to your clinic. That’s why we at Next Health Choice have put together a list of tidbits to improve the atmosphere in your waiting room at your clinic.
1) Clean & Clutter Free
Make sure your waiting room and main desk are as clutter free and clean as possible so that patients can easily navigate the room. This shows patients you care to take care of the area and extends to the care they can expect (Andrus, 2013).
2) Soft Lighting
Lighting in a room significantly contributes to people’s comfort-- too dimly lit and patients won’t be able to fill out necessary paperwork or read and too bright and patients may feel on display or aggravate symptoms like headaches. Select soft lighting options for overhead lights and lamp fixtures.
The music in a waiting room should be something neutral, such as an easy listening station and should be at a low volume. This adds to the atmosphere without being overpowering.
4) Reading Materials
Whether patients will experience a wait or they come in with family members, it’s always a good idea to provide reading materials in your waiting room. Make an effort to put out recent magazines that provide light-hearted and popular reading such as cooking, home, sports, fashion and nature. For clinics with long procedures or wait times, you could even have a small bookcase with mass media books that patients can peruse.
5) Art & Decor
You want patients to feel welcome and comfortable in your clinic, similar to when you have visitors in your home. So take the time to add your staff’s personality to the waiting room with simple things like paintings, wall colors, plants, and even photos. Keep in mind you don’t want to clutter the office but you do want to add pieces of your style to the room.
Everywhere you look, whether on the bus or sitting in a coffee shop, you’ll see people interacting with their phones, tablets and computers. People appreciate and often seek out free wifi to use while in public, so if it’s something that your clinic can offer, then you should. Not only will providing access to the internet help your patients pass the wait time, it can also allow for people to continue working on business or school work while in the waiting room.
There seems to be a trend with waiting rooms and offices providing free beverages for their patients to enjoy. Putting out a coffee & tea station, access to drinking water and even juices is something both your patients and staff can enjoy.
Most patients will pass the wait time by sitting down until their name is called. Be sure to provide sufficient and comfortable seating for your patients. Keep in mind the layout when selecting seating options so that patients can easily move around the waiting room without bothering others to pass by.
If you make the waiting room comfortable for patients, they will be more understanding if appointment times are behind schedule.
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Andrus, Brooke. “5 Tips for Creating an Inviting Reception Area in Your Clinic.” WebPT. 2013. Accessed: October 13, 2015.