TestWaiting Room Tips for Your Medical Office

Waiting Room Tips for Your Medical Office

The patient experience doesn’t begin when patients walk into the exam room — it begins the moment they walk through the front door, starting with the check-in process and the waiting room. Indeed, the waiting room is your first opportunity to show patients you care about them.

Patients often dread the waiting room. rater8 has collected millions of satisfaction survey data points over the years. The leading cause of patient dissatisfaction? Wait time.

Fortunately, small enhancements can improve their experience and drastically reduce negative feedback. Your waiting room doesn’t have to be bleak and barren; it can be fun, interactive, and practical!

These simple design tips and best practices will help enhance your medical practice waiting room and improve the overall patient experience.

Delay Board

First and foremost, be honest with patients about how long they’ll have to wait. Delays happen, patients show up late, doctors get backed up. Sometimes delays are preventable. Other times they are inevitable.

A delay board placed in the waiting room or mounted behind the check-in desk offers easy, transparent communication. It doesn’t even need to be high-tech. A white board listing each doctor and the amount of time they’re running behind is more than enough to make a huge difference in keeping patients happy.

Cable Television

The more televisions in the waiting room, the better. If your waiting room has more than one television, feature different channels (e.g., news, sports) to offer more options.

Magazine & Newspaper Subscriptions

With the rise of internet, magazine and newspapers are a dying art. Even though magazine subscriptions have decreased in popularity, that doesn’t mean that patients won’t read them! In fact, you’ll find that patients are often excited to have an opportunity to read magazines they wouldn’t otherwise have access to. Offer a variety magazines in your waiting room such as Time, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, People Magazine, and The Economist. This will help appeal to a broader audience of all ages.


Compact and easy to use, iPads have many different functions and appeal to a range of audiences: kids can play interactive games and adults can browse the internet. iPads are expensive and fragile, so a sturdy case is encouraged. If you’re concerned about security, you can tether them to chairs or a charging station to ensure they aren’t misplaced.

Free WiFi

Free WiFi is essential in your medical practice’s waiting room. People are glued to their phones, and it’s important for them to remain connected. Offering WiFi also allows patients to work on their laptops or other devices.

Check-In Kiosks

Self-serve kiosks are everywhere: airports, hotels, grocery stores, restaurants, banks, movie theaters. Installing check-in kiosks at your medical practice helps speed up patient registration, copayment collection, language translation, and consent form completion. Further, pilots have demonstrated that kiosks can boost patient satisfaction by reducing wait times, offering greater convenience, and creating more privacy. Make sure you have a designated employee on standby to assist those who might need help!

Designate a Waiting Room Liaison

The role of waiting room liaison can consist a plethora of functions meant to boost patient satisfaction. Liaisons can assist with kiosks, help maintain the delay board, ensure the waiting room remains tidy, and troubleshoot television or iPad issues. Having one designated employee float around the waiting room and check-in area helps reassure patients that they haven’t been forgotten and also grants them easy access to someone who can answer questions and address concerns.

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Electrical Outlets

Patients may need to charge their devices. Don’t make them fight over limited outlets in the waiting room.

Phone Chargers

While you’re at it with adding more outlets, why not offer Apple and Android phone chargers or a charging station? Patients who end up waiting for longer than expected will appreciate the opportunity to juice up their dying battery.

Business Desk with Laptop Space

Because regular doctor’s office hours rarely allow patients to schedule appointments before or after work, most appointments are scheduled midday during core business and peak productivity hours. It’s tough to step away from the desk sometimes. Offering a business desk will give patients the space they need to stay productive in the middle of the workday.

Designated Call Rooms

No one likes to listen to other people’s conversations. Waiting rooms tend to be fairly quiet. One person having a loud conversation on speakerphone can ruin it for everyone. To preserve the peace, consider designating the waiting room a call-free area. If patients need to make a phone call, ask them to step outside or into a designated room.

Text Updates

Offering text updates on wait times allow patients to step outside, take a phone call ,or even wait in their car for their appointment. During the COVID-19 pandemic, medical practices didn’t want patients crowding their waiting rooms. Instead, they encouraged patients to wait in their cars until they received a text update that the doctor was ready to see them. Practices that have continued with this method of allowing patients to choose where they wait have seen greater rates of satisfaction.

Children's Play Area

Reduce doctor’s office anxiety in kids (and parents!) by offering a children’s play area. Keep in mind that hard toys are easier to clean and disinfect than soft toys.

Free Water, Coffee, & Nutritional Snacks

If you’re a dentist, offering candy could be counterintuitive. However, healthy snacks and drinks go a long way with patients, especially parents who may have forgotten to pack a treat for their child. Patients with early morning appointments will be particularly grateful for free coffee and tea.

These small gestures in the waiting room go a long way and are worth the investment. A fun, modern waiting room will undoubtedly help your patients enjoy themselves while time flies by.

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