According to one survey, 63% of patients reported the waiting room to be the most stressful part of going to a doctor’s appointment. In effect, not only do standard waiting rooms not add value to your practice -- they are also harmful to your patients. Luckily, making a few simple and affordable upgrades to your waiting room can help improve the experience, making your business run smoother and your patients’ visit healthier.
Here are a few ways to relax, entertain and inform your patients in the waiting room:
1. Ditch Cable for Waiting Room TV
The assumption is that if a waiting room has TV, you must have cable. In 2018, that’s no longer the case. Cable alternatives use TV screens to play much more engaging and relevant content than daytime television, making your TV a valuable asset to your practice.
UPshow’s Social TV Platform for Business provides offices with the perfect alternative to cable TV. It transforms televisions into content hubs for patient entertainment, education, and practice marketing.
Patients can be distracted from anxious thoughts or discomfort with UPshow’s Social TV Feeds, which stream top content curated from the leading publishers in social media on top categories such as sports, entertainment and news. Take, for example, the Feel Good Feed, which is powered by Instagram and Twitter's top accounts for cute animals and inspiring human achievements. When a patient sees the feed on the TV, their eyes become glued to the screen instead of their phone, shifting their focus away from their stress and anxiety and allowing them to walk into their appointment with a positive mindset.
There is also the ability to educate patients with customized trivia games connected to their mobile devices, as well as a digital bulletin board that allows practices to showcase information like wait times and promote marketing materials like the one below.
2. Roll Out the Welcome Mat
Often times in the bar for waiting room hospitality is set far too low. Healthcare is a service, and like any other service industry business, a pleasant atmosphere is incredibly important.
Adding a coffee & tea nook is a small touch that can have a huge impact on the mood of your waiting room. Providing fresh beverages and light snacks for patients brightens their wait time and communicates that you care about their needs. Likewise investing in comfortable, tasteful furniture enhances the welcoming atmosphere. A waiting room does not have to look like a waiting rooms: provide your customers with some relief by providing ergonomically-designed furniture, and pick fabrics and paints with soothing colors.
You may choose to go a step further and decorate the space with some greenery. Studies show that the presence of plants -- even fake ones -- helps people feel more relaxed and happy.
3. Encourage Active Waiting
If you’ve ever watched a pot of water boil, then you know that waiting feels a lot longer and is more frustrating when all there is to do is sit and wait. Give patients the ability to engage and do activities while they wait. This will not only take their minds off of the wait itself and the imminent doctor’s appointment, it will also make them feel as if the time they spend waiting is productive instead of a waste.
Providing free wifi, large tables, and plenty of outlets gives students and employees to do work, allowing them to make up for their absence at school or the office. Those that aren’t working will also have the ability to entertain themselves on their mobile devices without worrying about low battery or data overages.
Communal tablets pre-loaded with games are an excellent way to amuse children. Many child entertainment apps are available for free or only a few dollars, and the devices are much easier to sanitize than books or board games.
Innovation doesn’t have to stay behind your practice’s welcome desk. Remember, this is a space that represents your practice, and it is the first part of your business that patients encounter. Upgrading your waiting room will improve the wait for your patients and help your practice run more smoothly as those patients walk in to their appointments more informed, calm, and satisfied.