Does your waiting room make the right first impression? If you're holding onto worn furniture, dated decor or harsh lighting, the positivity and wellbeing you think you're promoting may not be how patients actually perceive your level of care.
Why Is Office Decor So Important?
For healthcare professionals everywhere, your waiting room holds one of the biggest opportunities for growth by shaping the foundation of your patient experience. No matter how state-of-the-art your bedside manner may be, office environments remain one of the most mentioned details in patient ratings and reviews.
Why Traditional Offices Won't Make the Cut
According to Michelle Ossmann, a researcher and director of healthcare environments at Steelcase Health, the biggest offenders of a poor office environment include: poor lighting, sparse decorations, and a lack of user-friendliness or privacy.
Does your practice leverage volume over design? Research has shown that better design can reduce patient anxiety for a better overall experience, without your staff having to lift a finger. For any practice focused on boosting ratings and patient comfort, interior designers stress the endless opportunity there is in redesigning your office.
Harsh fluorescent lights belong on the highway, not in your office. Whenever possible, opt for natural lighting known to improve the energy levels and mood of your staff and guests. Large windows allow natural light to come in and can provide a calming visual. You may also opt for energy-efficient LED lighting, a cost-effective alternative to bold fluorescent lights that won't flicker or hum as they age.
Interactive Art and Decor
Heavy framed art and a stark view of the parking lot do nothing to alleviate the anxieties of a concerned patient. Take the edge off of an otherwise serious or clinical visit by working with local artists to get art up on the walls or have an informal photo shoot with your team! If your practice serves children, priority number one is to design an environment kids will love and want to come back to.
Interested in closing the office to move furniture around and add a fresh coat of paint to the walls? We didn't think so. Pediatric-themed wall murals instantly transform any office at a fraction of the price or time involved in repainting. Whether your office needs a full update or just a sprucing up, wall murals are affordable and easy to install.
According to designers who work with healthcare clients, today's industry is shifting from commoditized rows of identical chairs and generic furnishings to more consumer-driven and customer service oriented design, reports Healthcare Design magazine. Practices with a hospitality focus feature cozy and up-to-date decor, carpeting to reduce noise, play areas for the kids, coffee and water stations and convenient outlets to plug in electronic devices.
Up-to-date seating arrangements and easy to wipe down furnishings help patients enjoy a sense of privacy and cleanliness in their environment. With wider seats and ergonomic armrests, patients can appreciate comfortable separation from strangers and ample room to place their personal belongings. By adding a personal touch to selecting your furnishings, practices convey that their patients that their comfort, and business, is important.
Family Friendly Entertainment
Rosalyn Cama, FASID, EDAC, author of the book, Evidence-Based Healthcare Design, and president of healthcare design firm Cama, Inc., suggests, "If a patient walks into a practice and sees an old tube television, clutter and worn chairs, they might think, 'Maybe the equipment here is old, too.'"
TV’s that broadcast "Judge Judy" or "Days of Our Lives" have been as popular in waiting rooms as the shows have been on air, yet they may not have a child's best interest in mind. Interactive Augmented Reality Wall Clings are a better choice for younger patients, keeping them both engaged and entertained.
For parents and older patients, a variety of coffee table books about travel, gardening, animals or art inspire closer family interaction and stay relevant longer than any 3-year-old tattered copy of People Magazine. Simply rotate a few new books in every few months for variety.
Pediatric and family practices can also improve their waiting room environment by supplying free Wi-Fi and workstations to get homework (and work!) done with ease. Built-in toys such as heat-sensitive wall mounts or finger fun tables inspire learning activities and exploration in a mess-free, stress-free environment. And Fidget Toys given in the waiting room keep waiting patients of all ages entertained and focused on something other than their pre-visit anxiety.
Bring It All Together
Patients will often form their first impression within seconds of entering a practice. Because your waiting room is the first thing they will see, it's imperative for your front office staff to greet them quickly and welcome them into a clean, organized and warm reception area.
Lighting, office decor, and patient-centered design doesn't have to break the bank to send the message to your patients that their time is valued and respected. The days of "waiting" in a waiting room are over! With a waiting room your staff and guests love, you'll leave a lasting impression worth sharing in online reviews and with friends and family, boosting your return visits and new referrals.
Searching For A New "Look" For Your Office?
SmileMakers is on a mission to make smiles happen! Popular among dental and medical practices for specializing in patient giveaways and practice promotion products, SmileMakers strives to transform any practice into a place every patient wants to smile.
Mckinney, Maureen. "Expert Q&A: Easy Ways To Improve Your Practice’s Waiting Room |". Blog.phreesia.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 7 April 2016.