How to improve the patient experience in the waiting room

Published on 28/03/2018

How to improve the patient experience in the waiting room

A visit to a health care professional can be a stressful process. Whether it’s a visit to the dentist for a toothache, to the doctor for an important diagnosis, or to get test results, the experience can be intense for many of us. In addition, having to wait in a waiting room for an extended period of time will only make the patient more anxious and uncomfortable.

Since the waiting room is the first contact between the patient and his or her practitioner, it makes sense to invest energy and effort in making the waiting room more welcoming to the patient. This way, the waiting time does not seem shorter, but the patient will have had a good, relaxing and hopefully productive time while waiting for their appointment.

What’s more, a welcoming waiting room sends the message that the medical team cares about the patient, long before the patient enters the doctor’s office.

Here are a few tips to improve the patient experience in the waiting room and make the wait seem shorter.

    • Your waiting room should be welcoming:

There is nothing worse than having to wait for an extended period of time in an uncomfortable and unwelcoming waiting room. To remedy this, make sure you have comfortable chairs or benches, that the temperature is ideal, and don’t hesitate to beautify your waiting room with some flowers or plants. If your patients are greeted by a receptionist, a secretary, or a nurse, make sure that these people have a smile on their face!

    • Provide entertainment for your patients:

By providing entertainment to your patients, the wait time seems to go by faster. However, keep your old magazines from lingering on the table. Instead, offer them interesting books and magazines, even a TV screen, or even free Wi-Fi so patients can make the most of their time in the waiting room.

    • The waiting room must meet the needs of patients

Since your patients will be spending some time in the waiting room, it may be a good idea to offer them drinks and snacks. Nothing fancy, a little water, a few tea bags, or a simple snack in the form of a fruit basket will do the trick.

    • Create a relaxing setting:

If your patients are calm and relaxed while waiting for you, they will have a better perception of their overall waiting experience. To achieve this, why not consider the following changes or accommodations: you can, for example, play classical music, or nature sounds, but also essential oils, use aromatherapy, add some relaxing or calming colours, such as green, or even hang frames and pictures of adorable babies, or cute pets.

    • Come say hello to your patients:

If your waiting room is full, and you can hear your patients outside your office, why not come in and say hello. This gesture will make your patients feel less neglected, or forgotten. What’s more, a smile, as well as a little word, can do wonders.

    • Explain to your patients what you want to tell them:

Rather than subconsciously trying to make the patient’s waiting time more pleasant and less stressful, why not come directly to them? An honest and warm message will be appreciated by your patients. Whether you need to apologize for being late for personal reasons, or remind your patients to relax and make the most of the wait time, why don’t you come in and tell them personally? Your patients will appreciate this gesture, which also helps to strengthen the bond with them.


PS: Doctena allows you to make free online appointments with thousands of doctors in Germany, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

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