The waiting room is the first point of contact for patients and sets the tone for what they can expect during their visit. That being said, a waiting room is not where most people would choose to spend their time. A survey by the digital agency Sequence reported that 63% of patients say waiting is the most stressful part of the appointment experience. The agency notes there is a clear need for improvement and the stress can “weaken the body and immune system, which is the last thing anyone needs as they address their health”.
How can clinics be proactive in reducing patient stress? There are many ways to create a welcoming waiting room for a pleasant patient experience. According to a study performed for the Journal of Environmental Psychology, waiting room design can influence the patient’s perceived quality of care. Therefore, patients feel that they received a higher quality of care and feel more relaxed in appealing waiting rooms, versus those that are outdated and impersonal.
Here are four simple ways to improve your waiting room atmosphere to provide a better patient experience.
- Use colours to set the tone
- Red: High Energy
- Green: Healing
- Brown: Down-to-Earth
- Yellow: Uplifting
- Blue: Honesty and Calmness
- White: Simplicity
- Purple: Creativity
2. Provide comfort with quality furniture
For example, a pediatrician’s waiting room may be purple to bring out a child’s creative side; whereas, a walk-in clinic may use soft blue or green colours to have a calming influence. Using the appropriate colours can help a patient feel welcome and invited into a space.
After checking in, patients sit on waiting room furniture for a considerable amount of time. Nemschoff, a public furniture manufacturer, states that to create an inviting space, a waiting room should have furniture that is clean, comfortable, and allow for appropriate walking and wheelchair space. Many companies, such as Nemschoff, create furniture specifically for waiting rooms in a healthcare setting to provide patients with the comfort they need. The furniture should also be easy to clean and in compliance with healthcare regulations. Check out the Ontario waiting room module for more waiting room layout tips!
- Give your patients something to pass the time
Reading materials help patients pass the time while waiting for their appointments; however, it’s important to keep these current and relevant. A major complaint from patients are out-of-date resources on display; keeping reading material updated and relevant can reassure a patient that the clinic is wholly committed to patient satisfaction. Other modern entertainments and informative items such as a television or public internet give patients something to do while they’re waiting and can significantly increase satisfaction.
- Manage your patients’ wait time expectations
Even while providing a welcoming environment, patients can find a waiting room to be overwhelming. The consulting company Fuelfor, states that one of the biggest sources of discomfort for patients is wondering how long the wait will be.
Without information, a patient will start to feel insecure and uncomfortable. Sequence, referenced above, also mentions that the majority of patients wish waiting rooms displayed an estimated appointment wait time to help manage their expectations.
Many clinics are choosing to provide patients with the resources needed to make them feel more comfortable while in their waiting room. Displaying wait times, patient queues, or even allowing patients to leave and return closer to their time, can go far in increasing patient confidence in the perceived quality of their care.
Create a waiting room your patients will love by making small improvements like these. Take the time to ask your front-end staff, or even your patients, for ideas! Provide your patients with a positive waiting room experience.
Click here to learn more about Cliniconex’s Waiting Room Concierge!