Patients have been known to take a sick day at work just to make time for their doctor’s appointment. If they didn’t call in sick, then they’re probably in a hurry to get back to work. Whatever the case, the last thing anyone wants to hear is, “Please have a seat and wait for your name to be called.”
The same goes for patients waiting for their turn in laboratory services, except they’re probably more agitated. They want the procedure done and over with. No one likes needles, right? No one likes the nerve-wracking feeling that comes before getting a lab result, too.
Any time spent in a waiting room is a hassle for patients. That’s why alleviating stress and boredom associated with healthcare service is a critical issue, one that requires a creative strategy.
The Waiting Epidemic
The average waiting time for a healthcare provider varies from one survey to another. Some say it’s about 21 minutes, healthcare consultants at Press Ganey say it’s 23 minutes. Worse still, a poll by Angie’s List says some patients waited an hour just to see a healthcare provider.
For instance, now that some patients in England have to wait about a week just to get an appointment, I wouldn’t be surprised if the waiting time worsens as the doctor to patient gap widens.
Creating the Illusion of a Shorter Waiting Time
Other industries know that long wait times kill client satisfaction. That’s why restaurants serve bread sticks, spas serve tea, and theme parks have fireworks and parades. It’s all for show!
Health care providers understand this, too. Unfortunately, fireworks and breadsticks aren’t an option for them. Indoor digital signage displays can help you improve a patient’s waiting time. Here’s how:
1) Relieve Boredom by Displaying Clinic Information
Who looks at flyers these days? In many clinics, flyers remain untouched on the corner table because everyone already knows they’re nothing but advertisements.
Indoor digital signage works around people’s natural reluctance for advertising because they combine short adverts, such as flu shots and vaccines, with non-commercial content, such as clinic hours, physician awards and certifications, and disease awareness campaigns.
Patients naturally want to know more about their physician’s background, so showing this information will not only distract them from boredom, it’ll also build your credibility.
2) Crowd Control
A 2013 research report by Software Advice found that 80% of patients would feel less frustrated if they were told how long the wait time is.
Digital signage displays can be programmed to display the average waiting time, as well as ticket numbers so patients at the bottom of the queue can come back later. So instead of waiting 20 minutes to an hour, they can leave to eat or run other errands.
Giving patients the chance to do other things lessens their perceived waiting time and prevents them from getting bored. Plus, it frees up more seats for newcomers and walk-in patients.
3) Entertain Patients
It’s 1:30 AM. You’ve been channel surfing for the last five minutes but you still don’t feel sleepy. Then you chance upon an infomercial for a spinning mop. You’ve seen this before but for some reason, their demonstration looks more interesting to you now.
The same phenomenon happens in healthcare facilities. Even indoor advertisements played on loop seem more interesting compared to staring at a wall — or reading the same magazines –while waiting for your number to be called.
Indoor advertising can be tricky. Think of the crowd you have. For instance, a digital signage on a dentist’s clinic should focus on ads about oral products, dental hygiene, and new discoveries in the field of dentistry and orthodontics.
4) Advise Patients before the Actual Exam or Consultation Begins
According to DrScore.com, most patients want to be seen by their attending physician in 15 minutes or less. Waiting times ranging from 15 to 20 minutes resulted in a lower patient satisfaction score.
If the average wait time is 21 to 24 minutes, how do you make people feel like those extra six to nine minutes is already part of their treatment time?
Look at it from a different angle. You can ‘start’ a consultation or treatment even when the doctor is attending to someone else.
Take for example a waiting room for an Ob-gynaecologist specializing in prenatal care. What are the common questions of expectant mothers? What are the common procedures they get?
Make them feel like they’re actually in a consultation, but instead of face to face time with you, they’re getting information from the indoor digital signage. They’ll see information and ads about ultrasounds, prenatal vitamins, medications, and what to expect during the first to third trimester. In a way, you’re already answering the FAQ of expecting parents, leaving them more time to discuss other concerns with you. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Other examples include:
- X-Ray, MRI and imaging services: Displaying treatments and medicines for skeletal and muscular injury.
- Psychiatrists: Showing inspirational quotes, relationship tips, meditation tips, and information about medicines or wellness products specific to patients with mental problems.
- Dermatologists: Information about common skin care problems like eczema, severe acne, and skin cancer, plus tips about UV exposure and choosing a sun block.
Increase Profits and Save More Lives
Long and boring waiting times make more people postpone their check-ups, even when their health depends on it. That’s why reducing patient-doctor waiting time is critical.
It can also increase your profits by reducing no-shows and missed appointments. Of course, higher doctor satisfaction ratings because of shorter waiting times can also result in more word of mouth referrals.
You get all those benefits from a digital signage. You’ve got nothing to lose and tons to gain, so try having one installed in your healthcare facility now.