The biggest complaints from patients are 1) they have to wait in the "waiting room" and 2) the doctor didn't spend enough time with them or explain things in a way they could understand. It's about time doctors do something about it.
There are three basic reasons why you have to wait to see your doctor: doctor issues, patient issues and systems issues.
The first thing they can do is stop referring to it as a "waiting room". Instead, they should:
1. Call it a reception area or education resource area
3. A display listing ETA for the doctor
4. Free WiFi connected to your website
5. A greeter, like Walmart or an ER concierge
6. A post visit section, where patients can address unanswered questions and rate the visit. Uber does it. They also have the driver rate the customer, so why not rate patients offering ways they can improve the visit next time?
7. Educational TV or web streaming (possibly as a revenue stream supported by advertising)
8. Paging devices when the doctor is running late
9. Healthy snacks
10. VIP/First class lounge for those who want to pay a bit extra
The task is to use the space and time productively, create the proper expectation, do a better job of demand management, and add value to the patient experience. The clock is ticking, so what are you waiting for?
Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs at www.sopenet.org