Anyone who’s spent time in hospitals understands that today’s waiting rooms are rarely just for waiting.
Healthcare journeys are made up of more than moments of care—they include the time spent between care.
During these times, patients and their families are frequently left waiting. Waiting to meet with their care provider. Waiting for a diagnosis. Waiting to receive information or literature. And the places where they wait— whether for minutes or hours—are often uncomfortable and unappealing, putting patients in poor mindsets before they meet with clinicians.
Instead of simply waiting, these times can be put to better, more productive use as places where people can connect with others, absorb information and ready themselves for the next step in the journey.
The addition of technology empowers meaningful waiting. Whether it’s used for self-directed check-ins, teaching/learning activities or simply a diversion, technology added to waiting rooms in user centered ways can create productive, engaging places that connect people and information.
Physical and emotional comfort is important when people are waiting. Being in unfamiliar situations heightens people’s sense perceptions and emotions. Environments that feel hospitable and homelike can help put them at ease and make healthcare seem like a more normal event in their lives.
Waiting is an ideal opportunity to educate people about good health. People in waiting places are often looking for positive distractions. Providing helpful information on health topics helps pass the time while also nudging them toward healthy lifestyles and wellness.
People naturally seek separation from strangers and proximity to family while waiting. Healthcare is intimate. Most people want to put some space between themselves and strangers while they wait, while families like to cluster so they can be close and have privacy.
Active, productive waiting calls for a variety of environments. Television, noisy conversations or children at play nearby are distracting for people who want to read, rest or work. One big, open room of chairs supports unproductive waiting, but a variety of spaces and seating options offers flexibility for different needs, providing desirable choices and control of the waiting experience.
Time for change: new solutions for healthcare places.