I recently asked someone what the worst part about going to the doctor was. She replied that it was knowing that something was going to be wrong. Her second answer was that she had to sit in the waiting room festering with anxiety about what that something may be. Patients hate waiting. Doctors don't love making patients wait either.
It's an inevitable part of an appointment based system. It can't be stopped, but it can be made better. Here are some easy to replicate tips that will help any office make the waiting room tolerable.
- Have a TV playing Charlie Chaplin.
- Not a tv person, play this very specific music.
- Stop with magazines, get some funky coffee table books
- Change your lighting
- Provide phone chargers!
- Why I don't love free coffee
If you are a parent you know the value of a tv. Need a bit of a break, put the kid in front of the tv. You buy yourself at least an hour of time! Patients are the same way. In the age of mobile phones, everyone has their own personal distraction assistant, but a good tv experience still trumps all. There are two successful waiting room setups I've seen with tvs. First, companies like Accent Health give you a free tv and put health related ads and advice on there. It's quite timely as the patient will never care about their health as much as they do while they are at the doctor. However, a bit more empathy is required. Patients are angry and anxious stewing in the waiting room. Your tv should be playing old, silent black and white movies. They were made to be watched without sound, are entertaining as hell, and are good for the whole family.
I was recently on hold with our internet company for 2 hours. In hindsight, it didn't feel like it was that long and I couldn't quite figure it out, until it hit me. The on-hold music! It was looped music playing the same type of notes without human voices. It had no beginning or ending, it was continuous.
The mistake many offices make is putting on the radio or a Pandora station to Bruce Springsteen. The problem is that songs begin and end. When one song ends and another begins, you snap out of your funk. You also have a way to keep track of your waiting, "it was 7 songs!".
Play music that is continuous and without humans singing. It makes the wait seem far less.
Magazines are a time honored doctor's office tradition, so I can't knock them too much. But they take up a lot of space, constantly need to be refreshed, and are the same at every doctor's office! Why not stand out and get a funky coffee table book with big pictures? Something unique that your patients will remember your office by. Here are a couple that I'd recommend:
If you want to be scientific and let's face it, you're a doctor's office so you want to; change your lighting. Research has shown that exposure to natural light is great for patients healing from surgery, so knock your walls down until you hit outside OR get LED lights that mimic natural sunlight (we highly recommend the latter of these two...highly). Here is some good research on lighting to check up on. As for as what to buy, people seem to like the Cree LED light bulbs here.
Go to Amazon and order 3 android chargers and 3 (2 for the new iPhone, 1 for the old iPhone) iPhone chargers. Put them close to admin so that patients don't walk off with them. Thank us later.
I hope some of these ideas helped you with your waiting room. One idea I did want to pontificate on was free coffee. I'm an anti-free coffee waiting roomest! Free coffee in the waiting room gives already anxious patients more amp. Not only can it increase anxiety, it also could lead to more verbal confrontations with staff. Finally, as someone who has had more than 1 blood pressure reading destroyed by a cup of a coffee, coffee can mess with health tests. 160/100 anyone?
Any other tips, email us at [email protected]!
PS - if you are looking to make the waiting room a little less waiting-roomey, check out our new product Bitbehind which will allow you to notify patients when the doctor is running late so they don't need to sit in the waiting room!