Nurse Practitioners and other Clinicians can no longer continue business as usual.
Our patients (clients, customers) deserve and expect much more. Gone are the days when a white coat gives one cart blanche to treat patients and staff indifferently behind the ruse of being busy. There is no doubt that you are busy. But just as you want respect from your patients, they are now expecting it from you as well. Addressing one of the most common concerns patients make about provider offices will go a long way.
You are no doubt familiar with this complaint: “Every time I go to that office, I have to wait for hours!” I trust patients waiting in your office, wait for a much shorter time. There is much we can do to reduce wait times, but waiting is a reality for both patients and providers. It’s a fact of life that emergencies and other situations can and do happen.
So what can we do to minimize the impact of waiting? Well, it turns out there is much that can be done.
- First – stop calling it a “Waiting Room” and rename it a reception area or something similar. Waiting Room implies that I will be waiting, no matter what. Changing the name can help reduce that perception and soften the idea that there will be a short delay before seeing the provider.
- Make your patients comfortable. Patients have been invited into your office to see you. Think of this as your work “living room”. Make sure the reception area is comfortable for your guest. Take a seat…are the chairs comfortable? What about the room temperature? Too warm? Too cool?
- When we are waiting (and idle) time can seem to drag on and on. However, when we are distracted or better yet engaged, time flies. Do you have a variety of reading material that is up to date? And while you are at it, is the lighting appropriate for reading? I’m not a fan of TV’s in reception areas, but perhaps you may want to consider a TV or video screen that is playing something engaging and appropriate (maybe even educational)?
- Comfort Station. If possible, it’s nice to have a restroom available to those who are waiting as well as water or other appropriate beverages depending on your office situation.
- Children. It can be quite irritating to a non-parent (or parent!) to listen to a child who is bored and tired. If you see children, or the family members of young children, consider having appropriate items that may keep their hands and minds engaged.
Most important, if you have patients waiting to see you, make sure they are keep up to date on any delays. Consider offering them the option to reschedule. Respect your patients and their time. It will go a long way in making them happy, satisfied patients.
What changes can you make in your reception area today?