Why A Tatty Waiting Room Could Kill Your Practice!

Posted by Marilyn Lawrie on

Yes, this title was intended to shock you – to shock you into action about the severity of what needs to be and can be done to your clinic waiting room.

Most of us wouldn’t think of inviting personal guests into our homes with worn furniture, dirty carpets, old posters, signs everywhere telling guests what to do and, to end it all, a Readers Digest from 1986!

So why as clinic owners, do we think its okay to invite business guests, aka patients, into a business space that shows them a less than stellar welcome? To top it off, MOA’S face the uninspired waiting room all day and deal with angry patients whose stress and anxiety is proven to rise from an uncomfortable waiting room experience. 

With substantial growth in the consolidated business/practice model and government’s push to provide Patient Care Homes, gone are the days when a clinic environment doesn’t matter. It’s not just patients that get turned off by outdated environments, health professionals dislike it too! Clinic owners won’t be able to attract new MD’s, NP’s, RN’s or Allied Professionals to their practice if the ambiance isn’t conducive to their needs and paying patient expectations.  

The latest research shows patient comments on doctor rating sites relate far more to wait times, rude staff and waiting room ambiance than on the doctor’s skills. As long ago as 2008, the Journal of Ambulatory Care Management published a study examining the relationship between a medical facility’s physical environment and patients’ satisfaction with their care.

The authors concluded that “the physical environment of health care facilities influences patients’ waiting experience and their perception of quality of care. There is no one aspect of the visit, or element of design, that conclusively defines the patient experience.” Rather, a combination of both physical and social factors influences patients, the article noted.

Waiting rooms need fresh paint, nice flooring, furniture and coordinated seating areas, some greenery to calm and remind us of mother nature, recent periodicals to distract from stressful thoughts and some low music to entertain and assure patients don’t overhear staff conversations about other business. A few pieces of art evoking nature or a Wall Logo to brand your services will create the impression you want. 

Take away? Patients remember and share what they understand about their experience. Their perception of time spent in the waiting area reflects their opinion of the practice, but much more importantly, the quality of their health care.  As patients have an ever-increasing number of practice choices to attend, their loyalty is hard won. If your doctor ratings are poor and your patients have lost loyalty to your practice, it causes your asset to depreciate and whether your consideration is expansion of services or sale, your options and bottom line will be affected. 

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Tune in next month, we’ll talk about “Why Billing Procedures Need Your Full Attention”. Guest Contributor Tammy Rea, Regional Manager, Professional Banking |TD Business Banking |Pacific Region.                                

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