Visiting a clinic is always a stressful matter. Further complicated by a cramped waiting room and forced to squeeze in and being surrounded in a melee of sneezes, coughs and nose blowing can send any patient running away. The cost of acquiring a new patient is at least six to seven times more expensive than retaining one. And patients often judge on the basis of waiting rooms. Certain critical decisions to be taken when designing a clinic waiting room are –
Space and Area
If the clinic waiting room is too small, patients cannot squeeze in and are forced to stand outside for hours until their turn comes up. Many may just see patients waiting outside and turn away, preferring to go to another doctor who may have the same number of patients waiting for them but at least more space to sit. Moreover, cramped spaces are the best way to further the spread of infectious diseases or even a simple cold.
First impressions may not be the best impressions, but it certainly is a lasting one. The patients need to feel welcomed and comfortable. The front-desk is where appointments are taken down, patient information is fed into the system and information about the doctor is provided. The patient should gain confidence from the way everything is handled at the front desk. The reception should be located at a strategic location that is right next to the entrance but does not block the way further inside the waiting room.
Depending upon the complexity of a case and the number of patients, patients waiting for their turn can be a slow process. To stop them from becoming impatient or getting scared or uneasy, there should be a magazine rack with stacks of magazine that anyone can go through. For harried mothers of enthusiastic kids, puzzles or blocks can keep the kids busy and in one place. If you are ready to spend a little more, a wall-mounted television showcasing the latest advancements in medical field or information on various illnesses should also improve the overall retention of patients. You may consider the types of reading material you have placed out in a waiting room when taking into consideration the types of patients you have. If you are running a clinic that is targeted towards cosmetic surgery for women you may want to leave out examples of previous procedures completed, such as before and after photos of breast reduction surgery.
A well-lit, warm-toned paints and framed art on the walls can give a good impression about the doctor. The warm-tones help to present an inviting and compassionate environment. Pictures of nature or via plants placed in strategic positions can help to reduce stress and bring calmness to mind.
Small, hard and uncomfortable chairs bring uneasiness and heighten stress. Wide chairs with soft back-rest and a semi-soft cushion works the best. A patient with knee/back problems may find it difficult to stand up once they have sunk in the cushion. A hard chair may increase pain/aches. There should be a long table in front of the chairs so that patients can keep their bags and phones on the table safely. Electronic sockets and charging stations may be also provided.
Food and Drinks
A clinic waiting room is most certainly not a place for entertaining guests. But offering water and coffee can go a long way to relaxing the patient and giving a favourable impression of the doctor. A vending machine dispensing organic nut bars, dry-fruits and other healthy snacks can not only bring income to the clinic but also calm those hunger pangs in patients, all the while being healthy and increasing the favourable ‘doctor’ impression within patients.
These are some of the critical ways in which a doctor can ensure patient retention, inflow of new patients and increase his practice. Also, the waiting room should be disinfected and cleaned thoroughly every day or even twice a day to maintain hygiene.
Designing a waiting room is an underrated task when establishing a medical firm, we hope our tips can help you through the challenging decisions you have to make.