Every time a client enters through your clinic’s doors, you want to ensure that you deliver a first-rate experience.

Whether your allied health clinic has been operating for days, weeks, years, or decades a functional, enjoyable waiting room is a critical investment in your clinic – and it will pay dividends if you take the time and effort.

A well-thought-out waiting room design helps you create a more than adequate client experience by letting them know that you genuinely care about their health and well-being.

Your front desk will likely be your first port of call for visitors – this means you need to have friendly, approachable, and professional staff on board.

🔎 Honesty and Transparency

Being open and direct with your clients regarding your clinic’s current wait times is essential.

Ensure your front desk team communicates with your visitors if waiting times are longer than anticipated. Clients may want to re-book or leave the clinic temporarily and return closer to their appointment time.

Encourage your staff to be proactive and use your clinic software to help monitor appointment arrival times. If your team do this, they can be more aware of your client’s wait times.

👪 Who Are Your Clients?

It is vital to keep your client’s needs and potential needs in mind when designing your clinic’s waiting room. Using practice management software to generate reports showing the reason for their visit to your clinic may assist with ascertaining an insight into visitors to your clinic.

🔑 Key Aspects to Consider:

  • What is the average age of your clientele?
  • Do parents, guardians, or children make up a significant percentage?
  • Is mobility an issue for many of your clients?

Once you have identified your client base, it’s time to consider what you can do to improve your waiting room. A client-centric waiting room lets your clients know they are in an environment that supports and cares about them.

🪑 Chairs in Your Waiting Room

A range of seating options, from comfortable couches to chairs in your clinic’s waiting room, will help you cater to your client’s various needs and circumstances.

While comfort is of great importance in regards to your clinic’s waiting room furniture, it is essential to take the time to consider the following in regards to your seating furniture:

📏 Upholstery, Comfort, Colour and Layout:

  • Is the upholstery easy to clean?
  • Are the chairs and couches comfortable?
  • Are the colours practical and aesthetically pleasing?
  • Is the layout practical and aesthetically pleasing?

🌼 Decorative Features

Your waiting room is the first area people see as soon as they step into your clinic, so it pays to work out ways to make the space more appealing with things like artwork and plants.

🎨 Artwork: Adds Colour and Intrigue

  • Display artwork on the wall to brighten up the room.
  • An aquarium can help reduce stress and be a point of interest.

🌱 Plants: Colour and Health Benefits

  • Use colourful plants to brighten up the room.
  • Certain varieties help promote clean air in enclosed spaces.

🧸 What About Younger Clients?

Creating a children’s play area can ensure that your clinic is family-friendly and will benefit your visitors as it helps families relax and enjoy the waiting room experience.

Alongside a play area, you should ensure that you provide chairs and facilities for the parents and caregivers of children.

🪁 Children’s Play Area Checklist:

  • Design the area to be fun, safe and entertaining.
  • Consider keeping the play area separate from the main waiting area.
  • Make sure that you choose safe, easy-to-clean, robust toys for children.
  • It is essential to provide chairs and facilities for parents and caregivers.

📚 Educate and Entertain Your Clients

You have a captured audience in your clinic waiting room, so why not consider providing educational brochures?

Depending on the nature of your clinic, the information could be nutrition-based, exercise based or well-being-focused. Alongside brochures, you could provide a mixture of magazines and books.

If you have these items available, you should ensure that they are informative, entertaining and modern.

A few suggestions are:

  • Provide a variety of magazines and books for waiting clients.
  • Support local clubs by allowing them to display brochures or posters.
  • Keep the magazines on rotation to ensure they are not outdated.
  • Consider a large wall-mounted TV screen.
  • Keep TV programs or music neutral and at a low volume.

📈 Inventory For Sale

Your clinic’s available inventory will vary depending on the needs of your clients and the type of clinic you are operating. Examples of stock could include equipment to assist with exercise, support braces to aid recovery, or well-being items to help reduce stress.

While your patients wait for appointments, they can browse through the items and potentially make a purchase they had otherwise not intended to make. Also, after an appointment, your team may suggest products that could be useful for them to purchase.

You can use your practice management software to keep track of your inventory stock and maintain the required inventory levels.

❇️ Technology in Your Waiting Room

Internet access is a staple of modern life, so free WiFi might give you extra points with the visitors to your clinic. You just need to ensure that any clinical data is kept secure and separate.

Alongside are a couple of other ideas you could take on board regarding technology within your waiting room:

  • Charging stations for phones and tablets.
  • You could consider providing lecture chairs so busy clients can continue working while they wait.

Your practice management software might have consent or intake forms available online, which helps to make the process seamless and enables the information to be automatically collected by your clinic’s software.

🔦 Facilities to Consider for Your Clinic

A waiting room should have clear signs showing where the bathroom facilities are. It can quickly become uncomfortable and awkward (especially for people with young children or mobility issues) if your visitors are unsure where these facilities are.

When designing or improving your clinic’s bathroom facilities, keep the following in mind:

  • Private and baby-friendly change and feeding areas are a must-have.
  • Are your facilities easy to access and locate?

Finally, here is one last idea regarding your clinic waiting room that could assist in encouraging a more positive experience for your clients.

🍎 Complimentary Drinks or Refreshments

If your clinic provides drinks or refreshments, they do not need to be fancy or over the top.

You could survey your clients via email, intake forms, or in-person to ascertain which drinks or refreshments they may like prior to setting up a mini kitchen area.

  • Tea, coffee, hot chocolate and filtered water are all options to consider.
  • If you decide to provide drinks or refreshments, the best way to approach this is to offer allergen-free items (like lactose-free milk alternatives).
  • Aim to offer items with minimal packaging while still ensuring you have easy-to-access rubbish bins.

📝 A Checklist for Your Waiting Room

This checklist (while not exhaustive) is designed to help you create a functional, practical waiting room:

  • ☑️ Does your clinic software assist you with your client’s wait times?
  • ☑️ Are intake and consent forms ready to be completed while waiting?
  • ☑️ Do you have clear, easily accessible entrances and exits?
  • ☑️ Are your waiting room chairs comfortable and in the best locations?
  • ☑️ Are there suitable toys and magazines available?
  • ☑️ Are the bathroom facilities readily accessible and catering to everyone’s needs?
  • ☑️ Is your waiting room family-friendly with TV and music set to a low volume?
  • ☑️ Do you have accessible charging stations for phones and tablets?
  • ☑️ Have you displayed a sign depicting your Free WiFi password?
  • ☑️ Are you offering complimentary drinks or refreshments?
  • ☑️ Are your staff friendly and customer-focused?

🎁 It’s a Wrap!

A functional, comfortable waiting room is a must for any clinic, and you will need to update and regularly improve yours.

Even though your waiting room may not be the sole reason why clients visit your clinic, it certainly could impact whether or not they will return.

It is worth regularly reviewing your waiting room and considering whether some possible adjustments are needed to help provide a better overall experience for your clients.

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