Ways to ensure a doctor’s waiting room design pleases patients
The patient experience is, now more so than ever, a crucial part of a visit to the doctor’s. From the first steps through the door of a private healthcare facility, factors like waiting time, level of comfort and interactions with reception staff all affect patient satisfaction.
These elements can also influence patient wellbeing before medical consultation. For many people a visit to the doctor’s office is extremely stressful and can even cause anxiety. Harvard research draws a definite line between spells of mental anxiety and physical health, with stress proven to stimulate immediate physical reactions such as fatigue and nausea.
Patient comfort while they pass the time waiting to see a medical practitioner is a critical part of the wider healthcare experience. A more pleasant doctor’s waiting room comes from pleasing and flexible design projects that stimulates appropriate emotional responses, puts the patient in control of their surroundings and streamlines their access to information.
Finding an appropriate design scheme
The first step towards designing a doctor’s waiting room that aids a happier patient experience is determining what architectural elements your demographic expect.
For example, children attending a paediatrician’s office will want different design elements than adults attending a cardiologist. The paediatrician’s waiting room will use bright colours, toys and other distractions to prevent children from feeling anxious. Practical design elements also play a role – for example, plastic furniture is more robust and easier to clean than other decor options. Meanwhile, the cardiologist’s waiting room will likely have a muted colour palette and more comfortable furniture to encourage relaxation.
Layout and space are also important parts of waiting room design. Too much furniture can contribute to a cluttered, claustrophobic atmosphere, while excessively minimalist design makes your reception area seem cold and uninviting, which both have an effect on anxiety levels.
The patient-led waiting room
Increasing patient satisfaction with your medical facility starts with making patients feel like the space is theirs. Being forced to wait patiently in a room they have no control over will make your clinic visitors feel unwelcome. That’s where flexible design and decor make a significant difference in improving the waiting room experience.
An open-plan space with minimal fixed obstructions like walls and columns gives patients the opportunity to move around freely as needed. This space is especially welcome for larger groups waiting with a patient. Make their wait satisfactory too by providing a specific space in the room for larger groups. This will also ensure other patients aren’t disturbed by too much noise or conversation.
In line with this more flexible space, allow patients to rearrange furniture as needed to make their waiting experience more pleasant. Fixed decor may seem easier, but allowing patients to move items around without staff permission will make them feel more at home.
Opening reception for a warmer welcome
Front-of-house staff are just as integral in making your patients feel welcome as any architectural or decor decisions. Receptionists are the face of your medical clinic, so let them act as such. The strength of front-of-house staff is often their people skills – but a closed off reception space will make many visitors too intimidated to ask for help. An open plan reception area, with employees able to interact directly with people in the waiting room, removes the front counter barrier and improves communication.
Providing patients with feedback opportunities on the parts of their medical experience they particularly enjoyed is the most effective way to improve your waiting room. An open reception area stimulates dialogue between receptionists and patients on this topic. Similarly, customer service feedback machines in the waiting area encourages shyer visitors to provide valuable insight on their wait.
The above elements are part of a wider trend in the medical industry towards considering the patient experience and wellbeing in all architectural and design decisions. Private medical clinic visitors are the equivalent of retail or commercial business customers. Making the healthcare consultation and treatment process more patient-centric is a sound strategy for encouraging happy clients to return to your facility in the future.
The Group HiS team’s medical industry specialisation makes them the ideal partner for any healthcare clinic. It’s one thing to embrace patient-centric design – it’s another to convert theory into practice. We can help you design a waiting room unique to your medical brand that patients will be happy to pass the time in.