Going to the doctor is a normal part of life for most people, starting at birth. After all, the average child sees their primary care physician for a wellness exam 31 times before the age of 21. And that doesn’t take into account illnesses, accidents, lab tests, physical therapy or 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 pediatric 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 (see article above), 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, eye 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, a study of more than 500 children found that 63 percent 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 the tablets in protective cases. Instead of giving kids 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 getting 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. Help them play the part with their very own doctor headband or nurse hat.
Remember these four strategies to create a more positive experience for your pediatric 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.