A lot of medical practice executives tend to underestimate the hospitality aspect of running a medical practice. Sure, at the top of their priority list, people want to be examined by professionals, however, there are other factors at play here, as well.
People want to feel safe and comfortable, they want to speak to people who are likable and empathetic and they want special treatment. Moreover, these are the people in a delicate situation. They’re scared, uncomfortable or embarrassed.
This is why you need to have a delicate approach. So, here are a few tips on how to create the most welcoming environment for patients in your medical practice.
1. Hire the right receptionist
The first thing you need to keep in mind is the fact that your patients are usually on the edge, as it is. They’re probably nervous or afraid of the coming examination or the results of some previous examination. This is why it’s important to try and battle this by offering them a warm human contact.
A receptionist is not just a person to help direct them around the place. They’re also someone to help keep them calm. This doesn’t mean that they need to chat-up everyone who walks into the waiting room. Sometimes, a calm presence (in terms of facial expression and non-verbal communication) is all that is needed.
2. A comfortable waiting room
The key to their impression of the place starts in the waiting room. In fact, in a lot of practices, this is the place where a patient spends most of the time. As we’ve already mentioned, they’re probably already scared and nervous, which is why you need to help ease their mind.
First of all, the seating should be comfortable enough and the room needs to have adequate lighting. A light that is too dim might impair their vision, which is a problem if they’ve brought something to read while waiting. Too intensive light may be uncomfortable, which is why you should avoid it, as well.
3. Quality equipment
The state of your equipment affects your authority and people’s belief in your medical ability. Having top-notch equipment will show your visitors that you’re good at what you’re doing and that your priorities are in the right place. After all, when looking for medical advice, people want nothing but the very best. The problem lies in perception, seeing as how laymen can’t tell the quality of your equipment.
This is why it’s important that the equipment is A) new and B) pristine. These are the things they can perceive even without any previous knowledge. Specialization is also quite important, which is why, for instance, if you’re running a dental clinic, you need to find specialists in dental clinic designs that can provide you with the right fit-out.
4. Provide some entertainment
Previously, we’ve mentioned that they might have taken something to read but you can’t start with this presumption. So, you need to do what you can in order to provide them with some entertainment. You can start with free Wi-Fi. Every person that comes to your practice already has a smartphone on them.
In other words, they have the means to keep themselves busy. All you need to do is provide them with free internet and they will easily lose track of time. One study shows that by giving your patients suitable entertainment, you can drastically reduce the perceived wait time.
5. Efficient scheduling system
Regardless of how pleasant the environment is; people are there for a specific reason. This is something that you always need to put an emphasis on. Your goal is to minimize the waiting time and help them get the examination/procedure they need as soon as possible.
If scheduling appointments online, you need to develop a system or invest in a software that will make this run smoother and automate the process as a whole.
6. Use the music
Having the music play in the background can drastically enhance the ambiance in the room. In fact, the effect of music on soothing one’s mind is well documented. As we’ve mentioned several times before, people who come to your waiting room are under a lot of stress. You can reduce this stress with the power of music.
The volume is just as important. As we’ve mentioned in the first sentence of this section, the music needs to play in the background – this means that it shouldn’t muffle other noises in the practice. Subtlety is the key.
The very last thing worth keeping in mind is the fact that creating a welcoming environment increases patient satisfaction. This leads to two benefits. First, you’re increasing patient loyalty and retention rate. Which is great from the perspective of a business. Second, you’re helping people in need, which is a humane thing to do.