Did you read this headline and think “Crazy. My patients complain about the time spent in the waiting room. There is no way it helps my patient satisfaction. What is Amy talking about?!?!” Let me explain.
Recently a friend of mine posted a word of thanks to the otolaryngology clinic for leaving them in the waiting room. How many of you have received a thank you for that? I would guess not many.
This friend has a young daughter. They are used to waiting for their appointments in the exam room. A room that holds the attention of a four-year-old for maybe 15 minutes. Imagine how frustrated her mother gets after the wait exceeds the little girl’s attention span?
On this particular day, their appointment was different. Rather than going to the exam room to wait for their physician, they remained in the waiting room. During their wait, the little girl met another child waiting for an appointment and they played and walked around the room. This simple shift of routine made the wait much more enjoyable for everyone involved. A patient satisfaction win.
If your clinic staff knows the physician is running late, you have an opportunity to surprise your patients and offer them the choice of where to wait – the exam room or the waiting room.
What amenities do you have in the waiting room to make time spent there more palatable?
Does your clinic see children? If so have a corner with children’s books, toys, and coloring pages. Use your TV as an entertainment option too. Allow your patients access to the remote control.
Offer your patients something to drink – a water or coffee can be a nice touch. Have a coffee pot with single serving options available. Make sure they know where the restrooms are in relation to their current location. I’m sure you already have magazines and comfy chairs. Make sure the magazines are current and the chairs clean and well-maintained. Your clinic waiting room is like the living room of your house. Attention to details will make the space more inviting.
Communicate with those who are in the waiting room. Give them frequent updates on the status of their appointment.
While this might seem like common sense, it is not uncommon to get caught up in the operations of the clinic. That’s when we forget about the simple things that can make an OK visit to the clinic a compliment-worthy appointment to the clinic. Your patients will appreciate the gesture and share it with their friends and family. And it will be reflected on your patient satisfaction survey results.
Thanks otolaryngology for letting us wait in the waiting room instead of room. Sammy made a new friend to walk with and it is making the wait more tolerable. (A very rare occurance at doc appts!)
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