If you ask most people what comes to mind when they think about a doctor’s waiting room, they’ll likely come up with negative associations like long wait times, rude occupants, or contagious illnesses. Like it or not, your waiting room can be the difference between a less-than-ideal patient experience and a great one. It’s likely your patients’ first impression of your practice and what kind of patient care they can expect from you and your team. Fortunately, there are a few things that your practice can do to ensure your patients have a pleasant experience before their appointment.
Consider Your Interior Design
It can be easy to think that a waiting room doesn’t need to be anything fancy, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Waiting rooms that feel too dated, cluttered, sterile, or manufactured can put your patients on edge ahead of their appointment (which they’re probably already nervous about!) Prioritize space and consider trying new seating arrangements – cluster chairs around a coffee table or provide quiet spaces for patients to catch up on work. Make sure to also provide enough space for patients to socially distance if needed. Finally, pay attention to your furniture design and incorporate some of your branding into your selections – try a more sleek, modern layout for a luxurious, state-of-the-art practice or something more relaxed and comfortable for a down-to-earth feel.
Designate Staff for Hospitality
One way to make an impression on your patients is to make them feel pampered and taken care of. Make sure to train your staff to greet patients when they arrive, provide refreshments, and help patients with booking and paperwork. Staff who excel at going out of their way to get to know your patients and their circumstances are best for this position.
Provide a Productive Environment
Patients are just as busy as you are – your waiting room is a great opportunity to help them feel like they’re not wasting time while waiting for an appointment (which they’ve likely taken time off for.) Every practice should already have free, high-speed WIFI for patients. But consider also providing desks, charging stations, or other forms of stimulation like retail areas to help your patients multitask.
Make Sure Patients Know Their Wait Time
Nothing is more frustrating than a five-minute wait turning into a twenty-minute wait. Long wait times are unavoidable – but patients will appreciate knowing that they have time to make a phone call, enjoy a cup of coffee, or read a chapter of their book instead of waiting to be called back at any minute. Consider a text-based messaging system that can estimate a patient’s wait time, so they’re kept in the loop while they wait. Consider also implementing virtual wait rooms so your patients can wait in their car or elsewhere.
Refreshments can go a long way in helping patients feel at-ease. Setting up a coffee bar or a mini-fridge full of water bottles or other drinks is a quick and easy way to make your waiting room a more pleasant and energizing place. Just make sure your staff keep an eye out for empty cups or bottles and restock refreshments regularly.
Incorporate Your Community
One way to firmly ground your practice in your community is to reach out and provide space to connect. Consider putting up a community bulletin board, offering pamphlets or business cards for local groups and businesses, or incorporating local artists into your décor. It’s a great way to establish connections to expand your business – if you support your community, chances are it’ll do the same for you.
Let’s Get In Touch
Growing your business and nurturing loyal customers requires a knowledgeable approach and an experienced team. At DLM, we offer everything your practice needs to thrive and succeed. To get started and learn more about our industry-leading tools, give us a call or fill out our online contact form.