With viruses, illness, and bad lifestyle choices, your practice is probably busier now than 20 years ago. Take a short break from your busy schedule and have an objective look at your practice. Do you still have the same furniture as 20 years ago? Are your patients waiting a bit too long for you in the waiting area? Are they comfortable and relaxed while waiting – keeping in mind that their stress levels might already be elevated due to the uncertainty of what your prognosis will be? Are they forming the correct first impression of you and your potential services to them from the existing design and layout of your reception area? Worn-out, old furniture, stained carpets, uncoordinated wall colours, and uninviting reception desks have a huge impact on how patients perceive the quality of healthcare that they will receive.
We understand that the time a doctor has to spend with each patient is not long. We must therefore ensure that the patient’s experience starts in the waiting room and reception area, and that they will walk out of the consultation with admiration and appreciation for the calming effect it had on them.
As your affordable and efficient healthcare interior designer, we would like to confirm the fact that your waiting room can assist in promoting your patients’ health and wellbeing. We need to create a more homely atmosphere for them to improve their mood and reduce stress levels. Subliminal messages from your waiting room can calm a patient down and have a positive impact on their wellbeing.
So, where do we start in the process of evaluating your front office and practice? Ask your staff and your receptionist for feedback, and make them comfortable enough so that they can offer their honest opinion and ideas without the fear of sounding critical.
The list that follows consists of guidelines and advice. Each practice will have a different approach and/or different needs. Any of our friendly and professional staff members at Zippy Office Furniture will gladly work with you through the evaluation.
Here are 6 tips from the experts:
- We suggest that you start with analysing the seating arrangement in the front office. We will ensure that you have enough comfortable chairs for your patients to sit on while waiting for you. Nothing is more irritating than having to stand and wait for your turn in line, if you are already worrying about a sickness or illness. The waiting chairs must also be modern and attractive. Therefore, we suggest that you throw out all your old, wooden chairs that you have been using for the last 20 years ago, since you started your practice, and instead opt for single-seater tub chairs and couches. These pieces should be upholstered in synthetic leather, as it’s easier to wipe of dirt from leather than from fabric. At Zippy Office Furniture, we have many variants of PU leather, bonded leather, and genuine leather in different colours to choose from.
Another important option is to have separate seating arrangements for kids and toddlers with funky colours, appropriate toys, and strong, sturdy plastic or polypropylene seats and tables. This will keep them occupied while mommy and daddy relax on the beautiful couches and read the latest paper or magazine.
- Speaking of magazines, we would suggest that you replace the old coffee table with a modern-looking, 2-tier coffee table in a matching colour to your reception counter. Coffee tables should not be too large, as they will take up unnecessary space, but also not too small, or the magazines will always be lying on the floor.
You also need to consider a coffee and/or water serving station if you offer refreshments to your patients. Having a freshly brewed pot of coffee available for your customers’ benefit shows care and attentiveness. It has been proven in the commercial market that enjoying a cup of good quality coffee while waiting for an appointment brings down the anxiety levels and increases the patience of most customers.
We can assist with rental or retail coffee machines, as well as coffee supplies and maintenance contracts for the machines. This is also applicable for water dispensers.
- Lighting is even more important than seating. The correct colour, intensity, and placement of the lighting will create a much better ambience than the normal white fluorescent lights you probably have installed in the ceiling. We suggest strategically placing floor-standing lamps with soft yellow globes in the waiting room. On their first entrance, the patient might feel like they are entering a hotel lobby instead of a doctor’s office, which is the mood that you want to convey.
- Benefit your patients with bringing in the natural world into your waiting area, in the absence of a natural, breathtaking view. Depending on the ambience and style of the furnishings and lighting, we would love to advise on wall decorations, wallpaper, vinyl photographs, or art that will enhance the total interior experience.
- When it comes to your consultation office, your patient needs to be seated in a comfortable, soft, and supporting chair. Let’s call this your consultation chair. In the industry, it is also called a visitor’s chair. The patient needs to feel at ease while talking about a serious medical condition, and sitting on a hard, uncomfortable chair will not make the consultation easier for them. Here, we would suggest that you opt for a sleigh-base chair instead of a chair on wheels, so that the chair does not move around unnecessarily and create distraction. Secondly, we would suggest you get a chair with high-density foam, so that the seat and backrest are not only comfortable, but will also last you many years. High-quality visitor’s chairs manufactured to SABS standards with the correct density carry longer guarantees than cheap chairs bought from your local wholesaler. We all know that buying “cheap” costs you more in the long run, due to the continuous replacements or repairs. A good quality chair with a minimum 5-year guarantee is not as expensive as you might expect.
- A good tip for time saving is to also put a wall-mounted clock on the wall behind the patient. You will then be able to keep an eye on the time without distracting the patient too much. Sometimes, a patient (or even the physician) might get side-tracked when talking about grandchildren or politics, which will ruin your time planning and appointment schedule. We can assist you in decorating the back wall with soothing images, like a rain forest or a luxury beach front photo, in the form of UV-resistant vinyl or wallpaper. If you want something more conservative, we can always colour match the wall with a soft, nude paint just to bring some life and change into your office, and make it look more inviting and modern.
After reading these few tips, we trust that you have a better understanding of where to start and which areas of your practice you could improve. Remember, Rome was not built in a day, so with our fast and friendly assistance, we could assist you with the whole process. Maybe we can tackle one area at time, and as budget allows, the next area or item can be included.
Phone or email today and speak to your local, affordable, and professional furniture retailers.