Empower Your Practice

Journal for Practice Managers

7 Ways to Make Your Patients Love Your Waiting Room

Medesk
December 23, 2021

doctor’s office waiting room

Visiting the doctor isn’t most people’s idea of fun.

The fear of an unexpected diagnosis, painful medical treatment, and being “judged” for poor health decisions are just a few of the things that cause people to stress when going to the doctor’s office.

And let’s face it - nervously awaiting your appointment in a room packed with strangers who are just as anxious is even worse.

Want your patients to wait for their doctor’s appointment at ease?

We’ve got you covered!

In this article, we will share with you 7 ways to improve your doctor’s office waiting room.

Let’s jump right in!

7 Ways to Improve Your Doctor’s Office Waiting Room

#1. Declutter Your Waiting Room

Waiting for a doctor’s appointment is a stressful situation in and of itself, and a messy waiting room certainly doesn’t help.

In fact, dirty cups, overstuffed trash bins, and a leaking water dispenser can only make things worse - studies show that cluttered environments induce stress and make people feel overwhelmed.

On top of that, your patients want to know that your medical practices are safe and sanitary.

As such, a chaotic waiting room can leave a bad first impression and make patients doubtful of your hygiene standards.

So, if you want your patients to feel comfortable, first and foremost make sure that your waiting room is clean and organized at all times.

#2. Upgrade Your Waiting Room Furniture

Rows of hard and uncomfortable chairs, a table with a pile of outdated magazines, and a TV with one channel - that’s the picture of a waiting room in a typical doctor’s office.

It’s bad enough you can’t avoid watching the TV - but then you’re also forced to rub elbows with strangers.

Don’t want your patients to wait in such discomfort?

Consider updating your furniture.

For example, invest in comfortable plush chairs with nice armrests. It’s even better if the chairs are easily movable so that your patients can rearrange the seats as they wish.

Alternatively, try arranging the seating in separate clusters for singles, couples, and families for more privacy.

#3. Provide Entertainment

Entertainment in the doctor’s office waiting room has two major benefits - it helps to alleviate stress and makes the time pass quicker.

As such, consider adding various forms of entertainment to cater to patients of all ages, including:

  • TV. If possible, set up at least a couple of televisions with different health-related channels (e. g. cooking and sports). For more comfort (and not to disturb the other patients and staff members), consider providing individual headsets.
  • Reading materials. A small library with books and magazines on health topics is an affordable way to keep your patients entertained (especially if they aren’t tech-savvy).
  • Gaming consoles. These are especially appreciated by the youngest patients. In fact, video games are found to effectively relieve stress, frustration, and negative emotions - just make sure the selection doesn’t include violent video games.
  • iPad. If you have limited space in your waiting room, try adding iPads and loading them with videos, e-books, and games. For extra safety and comfort, tether them to the furniture.

#4. Create a Work-Friendly Environment

Oftentimes, patients miss work for their doctor’s appointment, which can be stressful and inconvenient.

Here are some features you can add to your waiting room to help your patients stay productive (and minimize their frustration for having to wait):

  • Free WiFi connection.
  • Plenty of electrical outlets.
  • Apple and Android chargers.
  • Work desks (individual or communal).

#5. Separate the Waiting Room Space

Is your waiting room big and spacious?

Well, you’re in luck!

To make the most out of the waiting room space, try separating it into two or more sections to fit the needs of different patients.

Consider these ideas:

  • Sick zone. While some patients come to treat viruses, infections, and other diseases, others come in for a routine check. As such, creating some distance between the patients can keep the healthy patients from getting sick.
  • Quiet zone. Some people prefer to wait in silence, so a quiet zone can make them feel more relaxed. Alternatively, consider adding a call room for extra privacy (and to leave the other patients undisturbed).
  • Children’s play area. Going to the doctor is stressful as is, but even more in the company of active children. So, a children’s play area will keep them happy and entertained as well as ensure the other patients (including the children’s parents) stay at peace.

#6. Use the Wall Space

If your waiting room is small, you may feel like your options are limited.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t create a great waiting experience for your patients!

Simply take advantage of the wall space to improve your waiting room.

Here are some ideas on how to do it:

  • Welcome signs. Add a welcome sign to your waiting room to greet your patients. Optionally, you can also include pictures and some information about the doctors working that day.
  • Waiting-time board. People hate the unknown, and that’s one of the main reasons why people don’t like waiting in line. As such, you can bring your patients more certainty and reduce their stress levels by placing a waiting time board (or a few!).
  • Bulletin board. Use the opportunity to work with local businesses by adding a healthy-living bulletin board to inform your patients about wellness events, such as fitness or meditation classes.

#7. Add a Personal Touch

Most doctors’ offices feel cold and impersonal.

But yours doesn’t have to!

Here’s how you can create a cozy atmosphere in your waiting room:

  • Adjust the lighting. Avoid harsh, fluorescent lighting and add as much natural light as possible.
  • Play background music. Elevator music can be stress-inducing because of people’s negative associations with it, so your best bet is instrumental pop music or classical music.
  • Add elements of nature. Plants and flowers make your waiting office look better and greatly reduce stress levels.
  • Decorate your waiting room. Add artwork and little knick-knacks (in moderation - remember, you don’t want a cluttered waiting room) to make your waiting room more pleasant.
  • Snack and beverage bars. Healthy snacks (berries, dark chocolate, nuts, tea, lemon water, etc.) don’t just curb the appetite - they also help with stress relief.
  • Designate a waiting room assistant. To make your patients feel truly welcomed and cared for, appoint a staff member to greet, guide, and otherwise assist your patients.

Conclusion

By now, you should have a clear idea of how to improve your doctor’s office waiting room.

So, let’s wrap it up by going over some of the main tips we’ve covered in this article:

  • Make sure your waiting room is clean and organized to establish patients’ trust and reduce their stress levels.
  • Fit different patients’ needs by adding entertainment and/or workspaces.
  • Depending on the floor space, try separating the waiting room into different zones or using the wall space for a welcoming, bulletin, or waiting time boards.
  • Add personal touches to your waiting room, such as decorations, plants, snack bars, or background music to help your patients relax.
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