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Creating a medical waiting room is usually a matter of balancing the space you have available with the needs of your patients. A medical waiting room needs to be both functional and comfortable, so everything from furniture to wall color to entertainment contributes to the overall feel. Be intentional about your choices, and take the time to plan out how you want your space to look before you begin.
A waiting room is usually the first impression patients get of your practice. It is where patients enter the office, and where they wait to see the doctor, hear news, or pick up a friend or family member. The best reception rooms are inviting and entertaining, as well as clean and functional.
Much of what it takes to create a medical waiting room necessarily depends on the sort of practice you are running. A pediatrician, for instance, will likely need a very different sort of reception room than will a hospital emergency room. The first thing to do is to think about your clientele and their needs. Then take a look at your existing space, and look for ways to make it comfortable and warm.
Most medical waiting rooms are immediately attached to the main practice. This is where the receptionist greets patients, where appointments are booked, and often where check-out is conducted. It is usually a good idea to make the reception desk an easily-identifiable feature of the room. It does not need to be in the center, but it needs to be easy to locate as well as approachable. Thinking through details like where to place the reception desk may not seem like crucial matters, but they can go a long way in terms of setting the right tone and image for your practice.
Waiting room furniture also plays a role in the tone that you are setting with the overall space. Decide how many seats you want to provide, and then look at ways of diversifying your options. Arranging love seats around a coffee table or circling chairs around a media center, for instance, creates more of a living-room feel that is less sterile than many other waiting rooms in medical offices.
Both lighting and decor are also important features to any medical waiting room. Lamps or low lights are often a welcome contrast to the bright fluorescent bulbs commonly used in exam rooms. You should also consider details like wall coloring and carpet, keeping in mind how often you will probably need to clean each. Waiting room decor like murals, artwork, and mirrors can also be a good way of opening up the space.
Finally, choose entertainment for your medical reception room that will satisfy your core patient base. Consider books and magazine subscriptions on a variety of topics, but take care that each is kept clean, current, and orderly. Wireless Internet access can please business-oriented patients, and, if children are likely to visit the medical waiting room, a dedicated play area is often a welcome distraction. Television turned to a low volume or carefully selected music can also go a long way towards setting the right mood.
I think the most important aspect is comfort. A medical office waiting room should, ideally, have comfortable chairs and sofas. My former doctor had the best waiting room. The sofas were beyond comfortable and the TV was never too loud.
A doctor who does see children should probably have a room for kids. These can include sturdy toys -- preferably ones that can be wiped down with antibacterial formulas.
Interesting magazines are good, too. I like article-heavy magazines rather than just fashion shots.
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