Whether you’re a GP, dentist, chiropractor, plastic surgeon, or any other medical professional that has patients, one thing is for certain; your business is customer service based. You have to interact with them, make them feel welcome, and give them the service that they’re paying for. But also something else is for certain, being nervous. You’re going to find that patients tend to be pretty nervous, especially if the appointments are invasive or something they’re not used to. You’re going to want to take away all of this intimidation because it’s only going to make things more challenging for both you and them. So, here are some ways to keep your patients feeling at ease.
Start By Creating a More Welcoming Environment
Patients who feel welcomed from the moment they enter your practice will likely feel at ease throughout their visit. Simple gestures like exchanging pleasantries or offering coffee, water, or tea while they wait can make a difference. Train front desk staff to communicate politely and efficiently with patients. Explaining complex medical procedures in clear, easy-to-understand language can help reduce patient confusion and frustration. Having your staff wear medical badges can help, too, as it gives a chance for your patience to immediately know the names of everyone there.
Offer a Variety of Seating Options
This goes hand in hand with creating a more welcoming environment, but why not look into more options in terms of seating? This is actually a major problem that medical practices seem to have. So this is something you’re going to want to avoid at all costs. A well-designed waiting room can help set the tone for a positive clinical encounter. Medical furniture should provide a variety of seating options that offer comfort, promote communication, and foster productivity. Consider including side and end tables for storing magazines, books, and other items to keep guests occupied while they wait. This adds to the home-like atmosphere and can reduce stress for patients.
Offer Some Form of Entertainment
While most patients are going to prefer looking at their phones, you have to keep in mind that not everyone is like that. You’re going to find that some, especially older patients, are going to want to opt for other sources of entertainment while waiting to see the doctor. This could include a fish tank, soothing music, educational wellness videos, a classic TV with the news on, or a digital display of your wait time. If you think about it, having some form of entertainment can be a way to protect the patients because it keeps them calm and it lets them know they’re in a safe environment.
Consider the Amount of Noise
For the most part, people dislike noise, especially in medical practices for patients. If you can, try to keep the waiting area and the patient/ examination room quiet as well. This could include having very soft music playing or even having subtitles on for the TV (if there is one on display). Another thing to keep in mind would be the acoustics altogether. This isn’t something that medical professionals think about too often, but it is something that should be kept in mind.
Plus, you need to think about yourself and your staff too. In a noisy environment, patients can feel rushed by professionals who seem to be juggling other appointments or patients. Patients are more likely to share their questions or concerns when they don’t feel that they will be distracted by a pager or your next patient coming in the door. Professionals (like physicians) and medical staff can also become more stressed in a noisy environment, and it may result in errors. Adding acoustical materials to ceilings, walls, and floors can help to reduce noise levels.
General noise and too much stimulation can be bad for both the patient and for staff, so this is something that should be kept in mind.
It’s All About Communication
In the end, if you want to ensure your patients are completely at ease, you’re going to have to communicate well. You and your staff are going to need impeccable communication skills, and this includes having a customer-friendly attitude. You have to be empathetic, you need to be clear, and you need to be pleasant. Physicians also need to be able to guide conversations for efficiency’s sake without making the patient feel they are being cut off or their questions are not important. This is a skill that can be learned with training and experience. Provide your patients with resources they can use to better understand their diagnoses and treatment options, such as a link on your website that allows them to submit any questions before their appointment. This will help them feel at ease, as they won’t have to worry about forgetting anything important.