We’re breathing a sigh of relief, as life slips back into normalcy. Have you stopped to consider the effect on your clinic, especially the waiting room?
In all likelihood, you’re reduced the number of chairs in the waiting room. You might even have a few set up in your hallway. There’s likely a small station for hand sanitizer, with plexiglass panels separating your staff from the patients. Magazines and other print reading material weren’t welcome during the pandemic, so the whole environment may look a little sterile.
It’s important, at this point, to remember the impressions this makes on your patients. Whether they’re returning for the first time post-pandemic — or if they’re new to your practice — you want them to feel upbeat, welcomed, yet safe. Even those who are fully vaccinated may still be queasy about interacting with potentially sick patients. Many still wear masks, even when they’re not required in certain environments.
How can a healthcare clinic adapt?
You’ll want to warmly welcome your patients, and give them the very positive experience they’ve come to expect from you. You want them to feel safe, secure, and trusting in your professional practice. They need to feel warmth when they walk through the door. They need to feel your staff cares about their health and outcome.
A few ideas to make their experience as optimal as possible:
Shorten their wait time
Most patients expect to wait a bit before their appointment. But after 20 minutes, they start feeling negative, one study found. So to keep patients feeling calm, focus on steps that will cut that wait time as much as possible. In doing so, you’ll show you value their time.
Digital registration and patient intake are practices that ensure paperwork is completed before patients arrive. You’ll streamline the process, which smooths patient intake when they arrive.
Continue the virtual waiting practice
During the pandemic, healthcare practices asked patients to wait in their cars or in a downstairs lobby before their appointment. This was a necessity to protect social distancing. And it’s a practice that may continue as we all ease into normalcy.
A simple two-way text messaging system keeps patients informed of their appointment status. You can easily let them know when it’s time for their appointment, and they will feel safe that they’re avoiding germs.
Entertain waiting patients
Once in the clinic, be sure that front desk staff advises patients on the wait time to expect. Patients will most likely pull out their mobile phones. As an alternate, you can set up a welcome video that shows your staff’s smiling faces. When their name is called for the appointment, they will have a positive mindset, ready to engage with their trusted healthcare provider.
Connect with patients
While patients check in for their appointment, it’s a great time to encourage them to follow your practice on social media, check out your blog or sign up for your email newsletter.
Also, you might offer a branded giveaway for patients, such as a ballpoint pen, facemask, or bottle of hand sanitizer.
By making a few adjustments, you can enhance your patients’ experience while also continuing to ensure their safety. Waiting can be frustrating, but you can lessen the impact. With these simple steps, you will show your patients your professionalism — and exceed their expectations.