While you may be tempted to forgo putting in more than the bare minimum in designing the best waiting room experience, know that you are doing your medical practice a huge disservice. Rather than just throwing a few chairs and magazines together, you should take time to design your waiting room space with your patients in mind.
Research has shown that potential patients make a judgement about your practice within 5 seconds of walking through the door. It’s really important to make a good first impression, so that your patients will want to come back to your office.
With this in mind, here is a checklist with all the essentials you will need for creating the best waiting room experience.
Start with the basics here: pick out some seating and arrange it. Think about how many seats you will need and how many will fit in the space. Are there going to be families or groups coming in where a few people will need to wait at one time? Do your patients need a good amount of space between them and the people around them? You might want to consider arranging the seating so that people have enough personal space, and not clustering it like you would in a living room. If healthy and sick patients have to sit together, the last thing they need is to be crowded together. Also, remember that people come in all sizes, so your furniture should too. Overall, out yourself in your patients’ shoes when designing the seating arrangements.
Another basic that should be high up on the list is lighting. Take advantage of natural sunlight wherever you can, as it will help calm your patients as they wait to be seen. Try to avoid fluorescent lighting as the flicker in these lights can set off nervous system distress in people who are on the autism spectrum, people who have a seizure disorder and people with a traumatic brain injury. Consider adding lamps with incandescent bulbs as they are the least stimulating to the nervous system.
When designing your waiting room space, you can use color to help create a relaxing environment for patients and help tie your design together. Designers recommend light purple, quiet greens and other soothing colors. If you feel the need for something brighter, consider adding in a few accent design elements in a fun color.
Just like with color, you can use décor elements to help create a calming environment for patients. For example, you can add pictures of landscapes and seascapes to your walls to evoke the calming effect of nature. You can also add some plants to bring about a similar effect.
It is no secret that some people may be nervous when waiting to be seen by a doctor, so add some things to do to distract them. At the very least, you can help prevent boredom. Adding a variety of magazines about different interests is a good idea. However, make sure that they are current – who wants to read a tattered magazine from three years ago? You can also add things like stress balls, mini puzzles, coffee-table books and other types of stress relieving toys and activities.
If your patients usually bring their children along, or your office is a pediatric practice, make a corner just for the kids. Add some toys, puzzles, picture book and more to keep them entertained while they wait.
Last but certainly not least, make sure to keep your waiting room clean and tidy. You want to portray a professional and hygienic image to your patients, so cleaning up on a daily basis is a must.
Having worked with clients including Quest Diagnostics, USC Fertility and Perinatal and nonprofit community clinics, Boulevard LA specializes in individually-suited, state-of-the-art medical and dental office space in Downtown Los Angeles. We realize that each practice is unique to one another and each deserves their own custom space. For more information about premium office spaces and tips for the best waiting room experience, contact us!