More on Quality and Safety

4 techniques for doctors to enhance their waiting rooms

I recently came across an interesting blog post from David Fried of Software Advice which was geared around making the most of patients’ time as they sat in doctors’ waiting rooms. The article recommended some good techniques for how physicians can differentiate themselves in this highly competitive healthcare market place where value added services can make all the difference in attracting and retaining patients.

Make the waiting room facilitate productiveness:

“‘Queuing psychologists’—people who study the phenomenon of waiting in lines—say that it’s the perception of the wait that matters more than the actual wait time. Unoccupied time is perceived as wasted, but occupied time is perceived as productive. The solution is not just to reduce the wait time from 20 minutes to 15, but to do a better job of distracting people during those 20 minutes.”

Offer a pleasantry to help pass the time:

“It takes several minutes for tea to steep or to brew fresh coffee, plus another 10 or 15 minutes to drink it. By the time a patient is called into the exam room, he probably hasn’t finished his drink. This leaves him with the perception that he didn’t have enough time, rather than too much. Plus, the patient will be warming up from the cold, waking up in the morning, or de-stressing. All of this adds value, and for just a few dollars a day.”

Provide a shopping experience:

One thing everyone can do to pass the time is shop. This makes medical facilities near malls, and specifically within retail surroundings, ideal for patients so they don’t have to shoulder a wait at all. Some doctors’ offices located in these style environments issue beepers, akin to restaurants, which alert the patient/shopper when the doctor is ready.

“By having a retail area of your waiting room–somewhere people can browse for products that they might need in relation to your medical specialty–you’re able to increase revenues and keep your patients entertained at the same time. This tactic won’t work equally well for all medical specialties, but optometrists are already doing it, and it could be particularly effective for, say, dentists, physical therapists, orthopedists or dermatologists. Most practices should be able to find something to sell, even if it’s just books.”

Wireless Internet

Take a page out of a coffee shop’s book and implement Wi-Fi. Usually scheduled doing work hours, doctors’ appointments can take away from pressing office duties.  “A reliable Wi-Fi connection is a nice bonus for customers who want to get some work done or entertain themselves while waiting. Cost varies, but plans typically start at $50 a month.”

These techniques can help make a positive impact on patients which in turn may create an uptick in referrals boosting the bottom line.


James Ellis, CEO, Health Care Realty Development Company, is a real estate investor and developer of medical office properties.


Aaron Razavi is Associate Marketing Director at Health Care Realty Development.



Visit their blog at


Show All Comments