Second in a recurring series, Patient 2.0 posts look at what goes on outside the marketing company and the exam room. How can digital technology help the other links in the healthcare chain?
#2: The Waiting Room.
Dante’s First Circle of Hell was Limbo, the place of sorrowful waiting, aloneness: the best of the circles of hell, but still, hell. A comparison with the average waiting room might be an exaggeration… but a small one.
The first question isn’t whether we can improve that experience. Of course we can – there’s no way to go but up. The first question to focus our brains on is,why should we? As creators of vehicles that communicate information, we worry about the sales rep’s stop or the doctor’s consultation with the patient. Who cares about the dull, quiet, waiting room?
But the waiting room is where the information about the patient is gathered. It’s where the patient collects her thoughts before speaking with the doctor. And it’s where, obviously, she sits and waits.
So not only is the waiting room where important information is collected and synthesized, it’s also time where the patient is focused on her health to an unusual degree, but is forced to remain still.
The waiting room is wasted time.
So, now we knowwhy. Buthow can we help improve the waiting room?
As mentioned inthe recent post on Digital Health Records, companies likePhreesia are creatingtechnology to make patient data-collection faster, simpler, and more accurate, both for the patient and for the staff. That’s a great start. How else?
Can you create something that will make the wait shorter? Domino’s Pizza has aan online tracker that lets you see exactly where your pizza is. Why isn’t there something you can check to see if your doctor’s office isrunning on schedule?
Can we make the physical place more interesting? The average waiting room has several germy copies ofHighlights, four years’ back issues ofBetter Homes and Gardens, and a token dog-eared copy ofSports Illustrated from six months ago – and even still, these get read before the brand-sponsored pamphlets on high cholesterol and depression that sit in clear plastic sleeves on the walls. Can you think of a way to putuseful, helpful information there that patients would enjoy engaging in?
Can we make the time spent there more useful for the patient? My doctor’s office recently started processing payment paperwork before the visit – probably a sound choice for them financially, but also an efficiency that I appreciated.
What can you put in a waiting room that makes it easier to stay healthy?