Going to the doctor is a normal part of life for most people, starting at birth. After all, the average child (PDF) sees their primary care physician dozens of times before the age of 18 when you factor in wellness visits, illnesses, accidents, lab tests, physical therapy and mental health visits. Even though these appointments are common, 20 percent of children experience some sort of anxiety over medical visits.
Whether your practice offers medical, dental, vision or other healthcare services, there are simple ways to create a more positive and calming experience for paediatric patients. With these tips, and some promotional items for kids, you can turn your office into a place young people will want to go.
Tips for a better patient experience
Stress and anxiety negatively affect health at any age, but according to the World Journal of Clinical Pediatrics, there are several key strategies that can help children feel better while visiting a healthcare facility:
Fear is often caused by the unknown. When sending out pre-appointment paperwork, include a guide on what to expect at the upcoming visit. Use age-appropriate words and pictures so parents can share the information with their children. Sending a giveaway for kids—like a coloring book—can also ease feelings of fear. There are many healthcare themes for coloring books, including doctor, dentist and more!
Create a welcoming environment
The waiting room is the first place patients see and the first time you can show patients you care about them. What’s more, studies indicate the majority of children prefer a decorated facility to a plain one. Go for a theme that is child friendly, like sports, a beach or a farm. Ensure your seating areas work for families. Small children often want to sit close to their parents, so offer couches and loveseats instead of single chairs with arms. For those who are more active, provide kid-sized tables and low chairs for coloring and reading activities
Sometimes a simple distraction is all that’s needed to ease worried minds. iPads® pre-loaded with stories and games make a great distraction. Safeguard electronics and remind parents of your message by placing tablets in protective cases. Instead of offering a prize after their appointment, offer one at check-in. A new toy or game, such as a plush animal, puzzle or Rubik’s Cube® makes a great distraction. It may even help them look forward to their next visit!
Promote positive interactions
Keeping things positive with your little patients goes a long way toward creating a good experience. Use kid language over medical terminology. For instance, say you’re going to take a picture, not an X-ray. Or give an ‘arm hug’ instead of get ing a blood pressure reading. Get the kids involved where possible. Ask them to be your assistant and have them hold some of the instruments or push a button on a piece of equipment. Reward them for being great helpers with a sheet of stickers.
Remember these four strategies to create a more positive experience for your paediatric patients. No matter what field you’re in, these ideas plus promotional items for kids can help ensure your littlest patients stay with you long after they’re grown.