For most people, a medical visit is a source of stress. We have some tips to help your patients feel more comfortable, plus patient giveaways that can help maximize the office visit experience for everyone.
Create a welcoming space
People spend an average of 21 minutes in the waiting room (or more than two hours, if it’s an emergency department waiting room), giving you ample opportunity to roll out the red carpet for your patients. Consider these ideas to help your patients feel more at ease:
- Tell them if their wait time is going to be extended. This helps to prevent agitation due to a lack of communication
- Make the space welcoming all patients. Establish a play area for children, offer Wi-Fi for adults and include a business area for people who need to work while they wait. Patient giveaways like colouring books or puzzle books can make any space more enjoyable.
- Using tables and chairs to create functional spaces gives people a place to set personal items instead of using another chair. These spaces also allow people to sit with friends and family if they are dealing with an emotionally difficult situation.
Try the BATHE technique
It’s estimated 1 in 3 patients is given enough time to explain their situation—yet patient trust and comfort come from having a good rapport with providers. Using the BATHE technique can help your patients to feel they’re being heard. Ask:
- “What’s happening in your life?”
- “How does it make you feel?”
- “What is the most difficult part of this?”
- “What tools are you using to cope?”
- “I understand why you would handle it this way.”
Reduce patient pain
Even simple procedures can bring on anxiety. The most commonly asked question is likely, “Will it hurt?”. You can make it easier for them to handle minor things like vaccines by:
- Explaining what you’re doing, asking if the patient has questions and addressing those concerns. You can also provide them with printouts or other literature that shares pertinent information.
- Applying a topical anesthetic or using a hot/cold pack to numb the pain can raise their comfort level substantially.
- A patient giveaway like a small travel first aid kit that includes pain killers will remind them how much you care, even after they leave your office.
Be culturally aware
In some cases, knowing about—and showing respect for—a patient’s culture will help you find ways to make them more comfortable in your medical offices. Some of the issues you may need to consider include:
When possible, offer patients the choice of seeing a male or female medical professional. Some patients may have cultural concerns over being in a room alone with someone of the opposite gender.
Bring in an interpreter if one is available or let the patient know in advance that they can bring a relative or friend to make communication easier.
Offer dietary options
If your medical office or hospital provides food, be sure that it takes cultural dietary restrictions into consideration.
As you learn how to make people feel more comfortable, you’ll turn every visit to your office into a chance to connect with patients and improve care. A listening ear and some giveaways can go a long way.