By Laurie Sorrenson, OD, FAAO
ROB Editors note: Last week, Jason Miller, OD, offered tips on keeping patients comfortable by offering refreshments. A reader commented:”Do you find that providing drinks at the front end of your exam process increases the interruptions during your exam for bathroom breaks? This is a frequent problem in my older population even without the drinks. I do have a candy dish out that is popular with patients, kids, and Fedex guys.” That comment inspired us to ask Dr. Sorrenson for her thoughts on keeping patients comfortable.
Keeping patients comfortable is a priority in our office. We give a lot of thought to how we can improve the patient experience, sometimes making minor alterations that make a big impact. For example, we recently changed out reception area chairs to upgrade comfort.
We also have a coffee bar that makes individual cups of coffee, tea or hot chocolate. We try never to skimp in what we offer patients, who can usually tell if you’re making a half-hearted gesture and care more about saving money than making them happy. We keep ALL the goodies: real cream, real raw sugar, refined sugar, Splenda, Stevia, Sweet ‘n Low, nice disposable coffee cups, stirrers and napkins.To avoid confusion, there is a framed sign on the wall explaining how to use the coffee machine. A vintage coffee mug with a small coffee plant in it sits nearby as decoration, along with lollipops or other candies.
In case patients haven’t gotten the message by the time they get their coffee that we care about their comfort, over the coffee bar is a framed sign: “If you have waited over 10 minutes, please notify the front desk.” It is important to ask patients to hold you accountable for their comfort, as some patients will boldly let you know, while others will suffer in silence–and then simply never come back.
After patients get their coffee or hot chocolate, they can sit and relax while their kids play the video games we offer on a TV in our reception area. We have another TV for adults that educates them about the products and services we offer. For those patients who need a distraction, or simply want to relax, we have an array of current magazines.
A very large aquarium sits in the reception area to liven up the atmosphere and create a focal point for patients who may be anxious. Patient comfort also is affected by decor, so if you can add a fun element like an aquarium or an interesting work of art, it helps.
TELL US WHAT YOU DO…
What do you do to keep your patients comfortable while they wait for their appointment with you? What has worked best for your office? What have you tried that did NOT work?
Laurie Sorrenson, OD, FAAO, is president of Lakeline Vision Source in Austin, Texas. To contact her: email@example.com.