Is your doctor's office waiting room a place you enjoy spending time? Probably not ... it's a new idea, and probably the main reason I spent two years writing about it. The waiting room SHOULDN'T be rife with anxiety and frustration. Did you know one of the biggest dis-satisfiers for the patient experience is waiting... wait (<- no pun intended) YOU already knew that, didn't you?! Even Family Feud participants weighed in when asked "What do you most dread about going to the doctor's office?" here is what people said ...

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More dread about the wait than shots or results/bad news?!?

Did you also know that 98% of people experiences some kind of stress or anxiety when in a healthcare environment? Whether it be anxiety about the wait, a test result, getting weighed or the fear of a shot. How much is that experience negatively impacting your Vital Signs? It isn't good for you and your doctor should care. But he/she might not even be aware of it. Most patient experience data captures the length of the wait, not the experience of the wait.

It's so obvious, to me at least, that care should be taken to create a restorative environment while you wait. How are you greeted when you arrive? Is a clipboard shoved in your face or do you receive a welcome similar to that of a fine dining establishment or spa? Are there amenities? Water, tea, hand sanitizer, WIFI? Probably magazines, but do you know that bacteria and germs can live on them for days? Is there healing music (there really is such a thing) playing over the sound system? How about the smell? I go to a place in Plymouth, Michigan for raw juice and they have ambient aromatherapy, it just makes me happy to be there! Hopefully the news, or worse, Jerry Springer, CNN or HGTV (the newest attempt at improving your waiting experience- unless of course you are a home improvement aficinado) is playing on the TV.

Did you know that viewing images of nature and healing music precognitively (without thinking about it) has a positive impact on your vital signs, emotions and psyche? What about an opportunity to mediate, participate in guided imagery or pray while you are waiting for a loved one to have surgery? So many opportunities ... what about getting a hand massage or being visited by a friendly therapy animal? 

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I am working to raise awareness and let doctors know that this is important to you and wrote a book on easing patient suffering through intentionally designed waiting experiences. The reality is many things happen that preclude the doctor from staying on time. We know all of the challenges in healthcare today and that when it is our turn, we want the doctor to spend the time with us. But he/she can make the wait experience a positive one by paying attention to Amenities, Positive Distractions, Communications and Processes and the Physical Environment. Research on cuing tells us that it is the perceived time, not the actual time spent waiting that gets to you.

If you have a story or doctor that could use my help improving his/her/their waiting experience, email me at karen@waitwell.com. You may be featured in my upcoming Blog.

Help me help you... THANK YOU! I'd look forward to hearing from you ...

Karen DeCuir-DiNicola