It’s a common expectation from patients that there will be a bit of a wait at their medical centre, especially towards the end of the day when appointments have gone overtime and patients who have been running late have pushed back the schedule for the entire day.
While its up to every clinic to try to minimise the amount of time spent in the waiting room, here are some tips to create an environment that patients won’t mind sitting in.
The basics – comfort and cleanliness
Patients need comfortable chairs, particularly if they’re sick. They don’t have to be plush high-end sofas, but if you’ve cut corners on comfort when designing a dental surgery or medical office you’ll be spending a lot of time looking at empty chairs! Similarly, make sure your waiting room is clean and smells fresh at all times or you’ll risk losing that all important repeat business.
Create a welcoming environment
Going to the doctor or dentist isn’t the happiest of experiences for most people! They need to walk in the door of your practice and feel relaxed and at ease straight away. A beautiful and well thought out colour scheme, some inviting plants and a couple of attractive art works will go a long way to make their experience less stressful. Make sure your waiting room is an appropriate temperature too so that patients aren’t sweating or shivering while they wait.
There’s one more thing which goes beyond the interior design of your medical practice and which money can’t buy – a welcoming smile!
Make a space for children
Waiting around in a medical surgery waiting room isn’t anybody’s idea of fun. Kids can find it especially frustrating, especially if they’re sick. A few toys and books will go a long way to make the time go faster and keep children from getting under the feet of other patients. Just be sure to keep some disinfectant wipes handy to minimise the spread of germs.
Provide ways to kill time
Subscribe to a few magazines which suit a range of interests and keep the turnover regular so that there aren’t old dog-eared copies dragging down the look of your waiting room. A TV in one corner is one option to consider when you’re planning a surgery fitout, but take into account that some patients might not appreciate the noise. If you have a TV ask your receptionist to make sure it doesn’t get too loud.
Technology is moving quickly, and there’s no reason your practice should get left behind. You could consider free wireless for your patients, especially if you are a busy city practice where long delays could be a big source of stress for patients.
Some clinics which work on a drop in only basis display on their websites how long the current wait time is in order to discourage large amounts of people turning up when it is busy. You can even implement an online booking system to save patients from waiting on hold on the phone to make an appointment.
Your patients’ comfort is a significant factor contributing to the success of your dental surgery or medical practice. For info on designing a well thought out waiting room that is inviting for patients and gives the best possible first impression contact Perfect Practice.[ssba]