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This is the waiting room decor guide you need to excel

The waiting rooms and reception areas are an excellent opportunity for your clinic or healthcare centre to extend a sense of wellbeing and focused care to their patients. This is all before they even see a doctor.

It’s more important now than ever to ensure your customers have a good experience with your company. This blog post will lay out the interior design tips and décor considerations you need to take on board for the revamp (or new build) of your healthcare clinic or doctors’ office.

Make your clinic waiting room interiors work for you and your patients

Waiting rooms are often unfocused spaces that just aren’t utilised to their maximum advantage. More and more healthcare facility settings are seeing them as a valuable touchpoint on the journey of their customers.

On top of this, patients spend way more time in these rooms than they’d like to (sometimes even as long as an hour or more).

We can all visualise the typical waiting room: old, sagging armchairs at best, stiff uncomfortable cafeteria seats at worst. A pile of shabby, out of date magazines on a central table that nobody wants to touch. Walls plastered with educational posters. A radio playing in the distance, softly out of frequency. An abandoned-looking children’s play area.

Patients don’t want this – in fact, this kind of neglected interior environment just adds to their sense of discomfort and affects their overall wellness. Interior décor like this also doesn’t say the right things about your clinic, and certainly not about how you feel about your patients’ experience of your services.

How can you turn this all-too-typical waiting room experience around? Short answer: make the space work for you & for your patients by being comfortable, efficiently organised and well-stocked.

Yes, we said well stocked. Keep reading to find out what we mean by that.

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Even small waiting rooms can have a furniture update

Here’s a fact: your waiting room doesn’t have to look or feel like every other boring, depressing waiting room out there. Updating the furniture is your first step in customising the space to fit your patients’ needs.

Waiting room chairs do not have to look like they’ve come out of a 1950s classroom furniture catalogue.

A variety of (movable/modular) seating options is a good idea especially when you think about how you’re catering to ill or differently-abled people – it should be movable too, to give patients more ‘control’ over their environment.

To be honest, your patients could be spending a long time in your waiting room, so it’s really important to start thinking about their needs & wants.

Let’s dig into that.

Design your clinic interiors to provide a positive experience

When it comes to thinking about the experiential aspect of interior design, it helps if you put yourself in the shoes of the people who will be using that interior space the most.

In the case of doctors’ office waiting rooms, it helps if you think about it like a train station waiting area. What do train stations provide to their users that waiting rooms don’t? Things like:

  • Wifi
  • Waiting times
  • Water fountains
  • Places to get coffee
  • Places to get a snack

Free WiFi and charging stations or power source access would really help your patients out, especially if they’re in for a long wait.

Healthcare technology has come a long way, and it’s easier now than ever to keep your patients informed of wait times.

This will help to manage your patients’ expectations of their wait, and dramatically lower their stress levels. Being stressed and physically sick at the same time is not a great combo for anyone.

Having a technological solution for patient check-in could also streamline the tasks of the clinic’s back office, as well as creating a centralised knowledge database.

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Small comforts go a long way in healthcare interiors

Supplying water, a coffee station and even access to a vending machine (hey, you could put fruit in it) is a great idea to up the positive impression of both your clinic itself as well as the services it provides.

While a little fridge with a free supply of bottled water is good, even a drinking fountain is better than nothing.

Oh, and please, there needs to be a rubbish bin (for those tissues clogged up with cold or flu germs) and hand sanitisers.

Some waiting areas even have a retail section. This is more common in dermatology practices, but we’re seeing retail spaces within reception areas pop up in other sorts of medical practices too.

Your clinic’s reception area is an opportunity to teach

Finally, your clinic’s waiting room interior just wouldn’t be efficiently-designed if you don’t think about how you can educate your patients on basic healthcare tips and techniques while they’re there.

Providing healthcare information can be done in different ways than plastering loads of posters on the wall of your waiting room. If you do want to use posters though, you could provide QR codes that point to specific sites with reputable information about different maladies and medications.

Many clinics now provide heavy-duty tablet devices in the waiting and reception areas. These open to a dedicated website with authoritative medical material available on it. Think WebMD or the Mayo Clinic website but clinic-specific.

There’s an important reason for this though which goes beyond small luxuries: it could help to inform your patients and teach them.

"MM&M reports about a survey conducted by CDMiConnect which found that those “[patients] who used their mobile devices in the waiting room reported they felt better prepared (82 percent) and more confident (78 percent) for the conversation [with their provider]. They also understood their condition better (80 percent), which could even lead to better outcomes.”
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Growing your medical practice is easier said than done. One of the ways to get on the right track is by looking at patients’ experience of it. Making your interior design work for you is an efficient way to tap into your patients’ wants and needs, and to secure them as repeat users of your healthcare facility for life.

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