How to Design the Perfect Waiting Room!

Digital signage in waiting room

First Impressions- Do They Matter

Let’s talk about first impressions.  When it comes to hearing health care- does it matter what your patients think once they walk through your doors? If you want to improve your closure rates and lifetime patient value- yes, yes it does.

What if just a few small changes to your practice’s waiting area could positively impact your patient’s perception of care, improve satisfaction scores, reduce anxiety, increase closure rates and generate more referrals and testimonials? Believe it or not, your waiting room may have more to do with your patient’s satisfaction than their actual care. 

You may not give your waiting room much thought, but your patients sure do. Even with the Covid shutdowns this past year, your waiting room still matters.  In fact, patients are sharing their opinions with the world on social media.  It’s often the first impression your patient gets of your practice and when family or others accompany your patient, it is where your patient’s greatest influencer will spend most of their time.  Research has consistently shown, your waiting room has more impact on making an impression and the difference between a relaxed patient and family, ready to move forward with their hearing care or an anxious patient and a resistant family.

How Do Patients Prefer to Spend Their Time?

Patients spend between 5-30 min in the waiting room. On average, they spend approx. 18 minutes. With patient referrals and word-of-mouth being uniquely powerful, it is in your best interest to offer your patients the best possible experience the minute they walk through the door.  By greeting patients with educational, inspirational and entertaining video content as they enter your practice, you are communicating to patients and their family that you care, you are professional and they have made the right decision to choose your practice.  Having your own custom TV channel in your waiting room can make the difference between an outstanding first impression and a mediocre first impression. 

Providing purposeful, action-oriented hearing healthcare information while your patient waits, checks-in and checks-out of their appointment, allows your patient to feel more involved in their care and for family or influencers that accompany your patient, it can be the difference between a “yes, let’s move forward” or a “no, let me think about it.”  In addition, by presenting information on additional services you offer such as musician’s monitors, swimmer’s earplugs, captioning telephones or even noise canceling headsets you are encouraging patients to ask for additional services without having to “sell” them.  

For  xxx who deploys this strategy says, “We’ve had patient’s actually choose an accessory product because they saw it on TV in the waiting area.”

If you do not have a TV in your waiting room, why not provide patients a tablet that uses a platform like CDM TV OnDemand, which delivers custom streaming video channels on a tablet, PC or mobile device. 

Consider Providing Surprise & Delight Amenities

Hearing health care providers can and should take cues from other industries when it comes to customer service. Something as simple as a coffee, water or soft drinks available increases the patient’s perception of value.  If you check patient reviews for medical practices, you will often see comments related to the condition of the waiting room mentioned. Setting up your practice to be inviting and the waiting space to be a warm, welcoming, clean environment where people want to be can generate a buzz when it comes to patient online testimonials and comments.  

Consider setting up a mini “shop” in your waiting room. Display accessories and other products that compliment your services.  Captioning phones such as the Hamilton Captel phone, noise canceling protection headsets, signaling devices, mobile devices from manufacturers such as ClearSounds, or even books that may be helpful to your patients, can help boost revenue and keep patients engaged.

Secrets of Design

The most important question when designing your waiting room is how do I want my patients to feel when they walk through that door? What is your brand or personality? Align your waiting room design with your values- warm and family-oriented or modern and techy – there is a ton of options, the key is making sure your waiting room reflects your values and your practices’ personality. 

Research shows that elements such as lighting and layout actually impact communication by staff, stress levels and healing. These benefits can be realized in the consult room as well. 

Create Space for Every Patient and Family 

If you are a busy practice, you treat children or your patients often bring family with them, it’s a great idea to create a variety of spaces in your waiting room.  If you have adult children accompanying their parents to appointments, make space where they can make phone calls or do a little work in privacy. If pediatrics is your specialty, having a little play space for siblings is a great idea. 

Keep It Clean

Covid has made us all germaphobes to some extent so the assumption is your office is clean. It may even be hermetically sealed.  It is understood that all waiting areas should be clean. We certainly have changed our habits as a result of Covid 19.  Maintaining a clean, sanitized waiting space is critical. 

Pay Attention to Furniture

There are so many options when it comes to furniture. Most designers of health care spaces agree, generic rows of uncomfortable chairs are over. In hearing care practices, there is such a great opportunity to create comfortable spaces that reflect the brand and personality of the owner.  Do not overlook this space. It really is the window to your practice’s soul. Ensure it reflects that. 

Incorporate Natural Elements

Research shows that incorporating natural elements into any health care environment can promote calm and well-being. This includes natural light, materials such as wood, natural fibers, plants, stone and water features. 

Plants and succulents are a low-maintenance option that improve air quality and the look of your waiting room

Add a Splash of Color

Color can have a major impact on the mindset of your patients and your staff.  Consider wall colors in the soft blue or green-blue pallet and these colors have been shown to relax and slow heart rate.  Both of these colors have a calming effect when used in larger open spaces.  You want to stay away from reds and orange colors as these colors evoke excitement. These colors may be great for a gym but not so great for a hearing health care practice waiting room.  Definitely stay away from yellow, which can induce irritability. 

Décor matters too. Waiting rooms that display artwork have been associated with improvements in patient’s perceived quality of care. Don’t just throw some old artwork that you couldn’t unload in your last garage sale, up on the wall. Remember how you want to make patients feel when they walk in your practice.

Make sure Screen Displays are the Focus Point

Screen displays are an outstanding way to engage people of all ages but putting a TV in your waiting room and tuning in to Food Network, Travel Channel or God forbid, the news will achieve the opposite. These programs will take your patients’ attention from their health care journey to everything but that. In fact, you even run the risk of presenting a competitor’s ad. The news will only depress and disturb your patients. 

The ability to control the programming your patient views can not only dramatically improve the perception of quality care, but can have a major positive impact on revenue by moving patients forward in their mindset around their care.  

CDM TV offers custom TV programming specifically designed for your clinic. Educational and edutainment programming sprinkled with custom clinic content that includes bios, testimonials and positive patient reviews are remarkable tools in building your practice. 

CDM TV is your turnkey custom TV programming system designed for your clinic.