How To Improve Your Patient’s Waiting Room Experience
Waiting rooms are as integral to health centers as any other parts of the facility are. They are your patient’s first impression of your establishment and will make or break their experience at your facility.
Contrary to popular opinion, the waiting room at hospitals, clinics, dental offices, and other health centers does not have to be uncomfortable and stripped of personality. Your patient’s journey with you begins from your waiting room, which is why you have to offer maximum positive waiting room experience.
Don't know where to start? Here are some tips on how to improve your patient’s waiting room experience.
Does Waiting Room Comfort Matter?
Generic patient waiting rooms have a lot of things in common. They are usually filled with ridiculously uncomfortable furniture, bright lights, health posters, and a handful of health magazines for entertainment. Although this might seem like what a patient waiting room needs to be, it is not.
Healthcare facilities are adopting practices and features that will help them provide better services for patients. This means better procedures, better equipment, and even better health plans. However, somehow, these facilities ignore how equally important the waiting room area is.
The waiting room is a patient’s first contact in a healthcare establishment. It is where they first experience the establishment’s services and receive their first impression.
Now, picture your patients sitting in uncomfortably thinly padded furniture with nothing to engage them other than the sounds coming from the different parts of the establishment and the other (possibly sick or injured) patients stuck in the same room. Picture them being made to endure this uncomfortable setting for thirty minutes at a stretch or more.
We can all agree this is not an ideal setting.
On average, a patient can wait up to forty minutes in a waiting room before being attended to. Although forty minutes might look like a long time, it can go by swiftly if you wait in the right setting. This is one of the many reasons it is essential to make patient waiting rooms more comfortable.
But are comfortable waiting rooms that important to patients?
Uncomfortable waiting rooms are a common problem that plagues healthcare facilities today. Although it might seem like funneling resources towards improving other aspects of the facility instead of the waiting rooms is a significant investment, improving the waiting rooms, and thereby improving the patient waiting room experience, is an excellent way to enhance your business.
But why is this so?
Some benefits of comfortable waiting rooms include:
Reduces Patient Discomfort
Healthcare facilities can be stressful environments for certain patients. This is understandable, mainly because they are in unfamiliar environments they can’t control, hear noise, smell strange chemicals, and have a fear of the unknown or what awaits them. In some, this feeling graduates from a simple sense of discomfort to hospital anxiety.
Hospital- or clinic anxiety- is more common than we think. Exists in various types, from Nosocomephobia or an intense fear of hospitals to dental anxiety and phobia.
Hospital anxiety can stem from factors such as medical procedures or visiting the facility. In cases like this, the patient can be irritable, in great discomfort, and will immediately associate the facility with this bad experience.
Having an efficient and highly comfortable waiting room is an excellent way to help your patients relax. Creating a waiting room that immediately offers comfort will drastically improve your patients’ experiences, enduring as much satisfaction as they can while they wait to be attended to.
Improves Patient Satisfaction
Better waiting rooms improve the entirety of healthcare quality. It does this by providing comfort.
Patients who visit healthcare centers are usually already experiencing some kind of discomfort. Since these patients cannot immediately get the help they need from the necessary physicians, it already makes sense to help them remain comfortable long enough that they are not distracted by their discomfort.
An uncomfortable or inadequate waiting room is a significant pain point that creates unpleasant healthcare facility stories. By improving a patient’s waiting room experience, you immediately enhance the outlook of the entire facility, thereby drastically increasing their satisfaction with other services.
Builds Better Clinic-Patient Relationship
Many people will agree that they would rather trust the healthcare facilities that prioritize their comfort over those that do not. This is a major reason why improving a patient’s waiting room experience is an excellent way to create and sustain a better business-patient relationship.
When patients are placed in comfortable waiting rooms, they begin to trust the medical team. Because they believe the clinic values them and cares about them enough to place them in a comfortable and functional area, they trust that the medical team cares about their well-being.
This is vital in fostering a tremendous clinic-patient relationship as the patients feel they are in safe hands.
Reduces Perceived Wait Time
Anyone will agree that hospital wait times are one of the most annoying parts of going to a hospital.
According to National Health Care Surveys, The mean wait time was 24.1 minutes in Emergency Departments (EDs) with less than 20,000 annual visits. Conversely, it was 48.7 minutes in EDs with 50,000 or more annual visits.
Although long wait times are unavoidable, especially if it's a busy day at the hospital, it can make this time seem shorter. This is done by providing mental stimulation that takes the patients off the long wait time and causes them to relax instead.
In a more comfortable environment than the average hospital waiting room, a patient is more inclined to be patient. This sense of reduced perceived wait time not only helps the patient be more relaxed but also helps the staff focus on giving every patient the attention they deserve without having to deal with angry patients who are tired of being kept waiting.
How To Improve Your Patient’s Waiting Room Experience
There are various ways to improve the average patient’s waiting room experience. Although these various ways have varying degrees of positive effect on the options, they all undoubtedly work wonders at helping patients be more comfortable in healthcare facilities.
Some of the best ways to improve your patient’s waiting room experience are:
1. Update Your Layout
Every generic healthcare facility we have visited uses the same basic layout of rows and rows of chairs. While there is nothing wrong with going with this furniture layout, refusing to think outside the box might be costing you your patient’s satisfaction.
Using basic ideas of what a healthcare waiting room area should look like also leaves no room for an impression on patients. After all, there is nothing really mind-blowing about the usual furniture arrangement.
Instead of these wildly common furniture arrangements, breathe personality into your waiting room by spicing up the arrangement. You can try various arrangements, such as including a cluster arrangement for family and friends, introducing coffee tables, moveable furniture, and even establishing a kid’s corner.
This is not only a great way to create a powerful positive impression but also explore the various arrangements that will offer more comfort than regular waiting rooms.
You don't need a lot of space to create the ultimate waiting room. However, making ideal use of the little space you have will go a long way in helping your patients remain comfortable as soon as they enter the waiting room.
Seeing a more inclusive and personalized waiting room will help patients feel more in control while also helping them relax and feel less insecure. Patients will also feel good knowing that the healthcare facility prioritizes their safety and comfort.
2. Introduce Comfortable Furniture
Who says hospital chairs need to feel like bricks or made out of dull, sickly colors in the name of looking professional?
One of the first things to do when trying to make your hospital waiting room more comfortable is to throw out the old plastic chairs and the highly uncomfortable pew-like metal benches that grace many hospitals waiting rooms.
Sitting too long in this type of furniture can be extremely uncomfortable, leaving the patient ironically but expectedly impatient and in a foul mood. Instead, focus on going the extra mile to provide a little more comfort that will leave your patients relaxed as they do.
Although comfortable furniture might seem like the more expensive investment and the clinic might be trying to follow a strict budget constraint, purchasing comfortable furniture will pay off in the long run.
Purchase comfortable and ergonomic furniture. Ensure they are durable to protect their quality and enable them to live past their stipulated value.
3. Engage Them
Have you ever noticed how slowly time passes when you're doing nothing? Have you ever noticed how worse this feeling is? Minutes seem like hours when you wait in a hospital with nothing interesting to stimulate your mind.
Our sense of time warps with the activities we are involved in. The more engaging a situation is, the faster the time goes, and vice versa. Distracting your clients from the anxiety that might be eating away at their minds as they wait to be attended to is a great way to help them enjoy a positive hospital experience.
While this is nice, it is essential to ensure that you display the right type of content to your audience. To help, we have compiled a list of the best & worst things to show on hospital waiting room TV.
To engage your clients, use digital signage displays to show waiting-room-worthy content such as news, weather updates, movie trailers, and customized content.
These customized content may be in the form of doctor profiles to introduce the patients to the doctors and nurse in charge and spark familiarity, informative animations on health tips or any other unique content created using pictures, videos, and texts.
You can also choose to display content that will resonate with your patients and offer them an insight into what your healthcare center is all about. This might include community events, memoirs from fundraisers, or even patient recovery stories (with your patient's permission, of course).
Essentially, the goal at the end of the day is to entertain, inform, and engage your patients long enough that they do not realize they have spent a lot of time in the waiting room.
4. Use Appealing Digital Decor
There are numerous benefits of digital signage in medical waiting rooms. One of these includes being able to implement gorgeous digital decor.
Although your patients do not walk into the waiting to inspect your decor, they will undoubtedly catch themselves doing exactly that as they wait. It is important to take advantage of this fact and use digital signage to create a more appealing and ‘warm’ atmosphere which patients can draw comfort from.
Are your waiting room walls the generic white color of the healthcare industry? Set the tone of your patients’ visit by utilizing digital signage as a medium to create exciting and calming displays that introduce a sense of calm into the waiting room.
5. Adopt Queue Management Systems
Long wait times negatively affect a patient’s experience at a clinic. The longer a patient waits, the less their satisfaction scores. However, sometimes, waiting cannot be escaped. It is in moments like this that you need an efficient plan to adopt queue management techniques and ensure wait times are severely reduced.
One of the many things you can do is implement digital queue management systems. These systems come in the form of interactive kiosks that patients can use on their own to hasten the check-in process. This is an excellent way to personalize your patient’s experience, eliminate queue problems, reduce wait time, lighten staff workload, and increase hospital efficiency.
With interactive kiosks in waiting rooms, hospitals can quickly collect customer information without any hassle. These kiosks are perfect ways for patients to fill forms, submit their data, and generate information without joining a queue. The information collected can be used to your patient's needs and provide services that are relevant to the patients’ needs.
Create A More Comfortable Waiting Room With Loop TV
There are numerous ways to improve your waiting room and increase your patients’ comfort. These range from acts like using the right decor to installing digital signage.
At first glance, it looks like installing digital signage in your clinic’s waiting room does not do much to improve the average patient’s experience. However, when implemented properly, digital signage contributes to patient satisfaction, clinic efficiency, and, ultimately, the success of the establishment.
To make the most of digital signage in your clinic, it is essential to work with a sophisticated digital signage service with all the features you need.
Loop TV is a free business TV with more than 200 channels and high-quality digital signage features that offers unlimited entertainment and business branding options.
With diverse entertainment options ranging from music videos (check out our guide for choosing the best music for waiting rooms), news, lifestyle, viral videos, and weather updates, and unique content customization digital signage features to create any form of waiting room signage to facilitate customer comfort, you can fully optimize your waiting room.
From offering free customer entertainment to managing your queues with an interactive kiosk, you can do it all with Loop TV.
To get started, sign up for a free Loop TV media player!