Waiting Room Ideas to Improve Patient Experience

What is patient experience?

We know how fundamental your brand is to your customers – patient experience is key to retention. In an article from NIH’s US National Library of Medicine, the authors state that “the quality of health centers, patient satisfaction, and loyalty are three key factors that enable health care providers to improve their services and cost-effectiveness.” To make the most of your setup, we’ll go through 3 waiting room ideas to improve patient experience.


Before we jump in, let’s take the time to define patient experience. Patient experience is the total experience you provide your customer. From the moment they see an ad or hear about your organization, through when they walk in the door to utilize your services, to when they receive follow up communications after their appointment – each of these aspects contributes to their understanding of who you are, what you do, and how you do it. 


It’s one thing to create an improved patient experience for your customers, but you can take this to a new level with thought, intention, and curation to reinforce your brand’s core, or brand purpose. 


The first place you can do this is in your waiting room. Try to imagine entering your business for the first time and consider these:


  1. The greeting. How does your receptionist greet patients and team members? Do they call them by their first names? First and last names? With a salutation (Miss or Mr. X)? Does this go with your brand? From the opening hello, your customer should feel at ease.


  1. Draw upon the 5 senses. 
    • Sight. Many waiting rooms use a TV to provide background noise. That said, you can use the screen to reinforce your brand or provide an educational experience. One idea? Loop a PowerPoint that runs through each of your providers, allowing customers to feel like they know everyone before they go into their appointment.
    • Sound. Music is a way to reduce anxiety and discomfort, especially in a new environment. What type of music is on-brand that your patients can enjoy as they wait?
    • Smell. Most likely your waiting room smells of hand sanitizer or cleanser of some sort, but if there’s a way to infuse a certain smell – do it! Large corporations (think Disney) use scent to signal different experiences; use the same tactics in your business.
    • Taste. This may seem like an outlier, but are you offering coffee, tea, or water? If so, is it self-serve or offered by the receptionist? Also, if you are a holistic medical provider, are you aware of where your products originate? Be sure to align these practices with your brand.
    • Touch. Are there books or materials folks can interact with? Could you utilize magazines or pamphlets to offer patients tips on healthier living? Keep these fresh and align the materials with your brand values.


  1. The transition out of the waiting room. When staff calls the patient in, what does this process look like? Do staff members escort the patient back to the door? Do they make eye contact when calling their name? Examine and adjust if these don’t mix with your ideal experience.


We all know the saying of not to judge a book by its cover, but we also know how impactful first impressions can be. By ensuring your patient experience aligns with your brand, you increase the likelihood that they will remember you and how you made them feel during their visit. The above suggestions for waiting room ideas to improve patient experience are a fantastic starting point. If you need help defining your ideal brand voice, check out this post to get you started.