the-untapped-educational-teachable-moments-in-your-practice-waiting-roomHave you thought of educating & teaching your patients before you even see them?

You can do this by having tablets or iPads in your reception for patients to use while they wait to see the practitioner. The tablets can have a link to dedicated pages on your website for conditions treated, what to expect for their first consultation, clinic news, and to research the health or healthcare issue of their choice in your field. Waiting for the practitioner turns out to be a digital teachable moment.

It turns out that a typical visit to a healthcare practice office includes about 20 minutes of “waiting,” versus 15 to 30 minutes of actual face time with the practitioner.

For patient-centric practices, the label “waiting room” is at least mildly insensitive to a positive patient experience. Yes, there is the widely-used preferred term is “reception area.” But “waiting” is what mostly happens there. And, with the proliferation of smart-devices, about one in five mobile-enabled patients use their wait time to research health related topics, often related to the reason for their visit.

Research from the USA shows 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 practitioner. They also understood their condition better (80 percent), which could even lead to better outcomes.

Seizing the education & teachable moment…

The perfect-world solution for optimum patient satisfaction, of course, would be to minimise or eliminate any waiting–and concerned practitioners and staff members make valiant efforts toward that goal.

That said, you should recognise that any (inevitable) waiting is a marketing touch point, and an opportunity to provide useful and timely healthcare information in your field. What’s more, the patient’s perception is that the wait seems shorter.

The traditional technique was the brochure display rack of patient education pamphlets, each devoted to a particular condition or procedure. An update to that became a TV/monitor that presents a clinic Power Point Presentation.

Now days, free WiFi is the standard, and digital and computer-enabled options reach out to each patient and seize the teachable moment (or minutes) with the patient in the reception area:

  • favicon Provide touch-screen tablets. As described briefly above, the immediate availability of a device—perhaps an iPad or similar—as well as the connection to specific health information leverages the opportunity for informative marketing content.
  • favicon Use technology for patient check-in. Touch screens and other digital check-in devices enhance office efficiency, and can provide condition-specific, and authoritative, information. Systems can immediately display timely information or, on request, send it digitally to the patient’s mobile device that they are likely to be using in the waiting area.
  • favicon Clinic Power Point Presentations. Why have the TV tuned to a channel displaying the news, sports or those annoying advertisements, your patients can catch TV at home, this is the ideal marketing tool for your practice, your TV Power Point Presentation allows the patient and/or their carers to learn health information, clinic news, etc.
  • favicon Display posters. Reception areas can display clinic and health information that advises the patient of the website address (URL) for information.
  • favicon Clinic QR code. Only a few clinics have created their own dedicated-purpose app for patients. A quick-connect QR Code (Quick Response) image can be included in posters, clinic brochures, etc.

Patients often use waiting room time to look online for relevant information, and “healthcare communicators” can help inform and educate patients exactly when their interest is high and the message is most helpful. It enhances the quality of care and the patient experience.