The doctor's waiting room reimagined: front office tips from the best medical practices

There’s much more to the patient experience than the medical exam, and the front office environment sets the tone upon arrival. Optimize this space to promote a healing—not waiting—environment and maximize patient satisfaction.

It’s only a waiting room if they’re waiting

Rather than focus only on reducing wait times, transform how patients perceive and use that time. Offer wi-fi in the waiting room and have a couple of iPads or tablets on-hand for the following:

  • PHR registration: When a patient arrives, it’s a good time to check whether he or she is enrolled in Patient Fusion. Look under the Patient Actions dropdown in the chart to enroll the patient. You’ll need to collect the patient’s e-mail address and provide an enrollment PIN to the patient. Ask your administrator for access to enrolling patients in the PHR. Ask your patient to complete registration in the waiting room on a tablet or kiosk.
  • Patient education and gamification: Make a game out of waiting with engaging patient education materials—not just a wall of brochures. Where applicable, give patients the opportunity to learn about their chief complaint before they see the doctor. Emmi Solutions is one company that provides this service.

Use imaging technology at the front desk

With a paperless process comes the ability to integrate images into the chart. Here are two must-have devices for front desk staff:

  • Camera: A study demonstrated that displaying a photo in the medical chart reduces errors. Keep a desk camera at check-in so that a photo can be quickly snapped and associated with the patient’s chart.
  • Scanner:While you won’t necessarily need to digitize every old paper document in a patient’s chart, it’s a good idea to stay paperless going forward. In a paperless workflow, there will still be times that you’ll want to capture certain paper documents, such as outside records and copies of insurance information. Have a quality scanner on-hand to keep the incoming paper to a minimum.**

However, it is not always about technology. The front office is a place where you are making important initial human connections with your patients and their families.