The Patient Waiting Experience
I was so grateful to sit down and chat with my friend, Karen D. DeCuir-DiNicola (Karen-D3 to her friends) about her mission to improve the patient waiting experience. Because every patient spends time waiting. And if you can improve their patient waiting experience, you can improve their overall patient experience. And the benefits to your practice or hospital of delivering an optimal patient experience are huge! This chat with Karen is about how you can deliver an optimal patient experience. About how to make the optimal patient experience your brand.
K-D3 is a two-time cancer survivor. That means she has plenty of experience with doctor- and hospital-clinic waiting rooms. As a result, Karen has wasted weeks or even months of time in those waiting rooms. Time worrying; time becoming more anxious; time looking through old magazines and watching bad television. Time that could have been spent learning more about her diagnosis; time better-spent being prepared for an optimal interaction with her care team. But we’ll get to that in a moment. Let’s first examine what is wrong with the typical patient waiting experience.
A Great Patient WAITING Experience is Part of the Optimal Patient Experience
Karen’s negative experience is not unique. EVERY patient has anxiety, and most waiting rooms do nothing to help. Anyone who has spent time at a clinic or hospital as a patient will recognize these:
- Cold, impersonal reception on the phone
- Cold, impersonal reception at the check-in desk
- Poorly designed waiting rooms with few comforts
- Television tuned to something inappropriate (Jerry Springer?) or News Channel
- Magazines that are out of date (four-year-old magazines just don’t cut it!)
- Magazines and other reading material that have no interest for the patient demographic (Field & Stream in an OB/G office?! Really?)
- Overhearing upsetting discussions of others’ bleak diagnoses due to lack of privacy
- Clinic exam rooms plastered with cancer posters – upsetting for patients with benign issues
- Nothing that helps relieve your growing anxiety
- Nurse or other staff who don’t answer your calls
- And more …
Waiting Well for Getting Well
Her experience led Karen to found the start-up, WaitWell™, where she serves as Founder & CEO.
WaitWell is the result of Karen’s passion to improve the waiting experience, combined with her years of executive leadership experience. WaitWell’s revolutionary six-step process is grounded in original and existing research, providing tools for medical professionals to better serve their patients with an exceptional waiting experience, and a competitive edge.
Easy Improvements to the Patient Experience
In our chat, Karen touches on concrete, practical, and inexpensive ways that you can improve the waiting experience in your own clinics and hospitals:
- Educate staff regarding resources to deal with angry or upset patients (don’t know what they are? Take a listen …)
- Stress the importance of the greeting (be sure to listen to my interview with Duane Knapp for how critical this is for optimal patient experience)
- Think about your patient demographic: don’t provide hunting and fishing magazines for your OB/G clinic
- Use nature: stream nature videos on the TV instead of Jerry Springer; hang framed nature images
- Consider aroma-therapy – it’s cheap, it works
- Use wait time to educate: provide educational materials for the most common symptoms and diagnoses in your practice; consider dedicating nursing, social, or other personnel to spend time educating return patients with known diagnoses
- Be sensitive: remove the scary cancer posters or other harsh literature or images from waiting and exam rooms. They don’t scare you, but this isn’t about you
- WaitWell has resources for health professionals and for patients
Benefits of a Better Patient Waiting Experience
Optimal Patient Experience
Those medical practices and other healthcare organizations that improve this waiting experience will be rewarded in many ways:
- They provide an optimal Patient Experience
- And because CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) use Patient Experience Scores in their reimbursement formulas, an Optimal Patient Experience optimizes your financial bottom line
- Patient loyalty: patients will broadcast your brand to others
- Reduced “patient leakage” from your health system
- Streamlined clinic flow: better educated patients spend less time in clinic
- Reduced use of resources: fewer patient-calls for nurses (and doctors) to answer
- Healthier patients: patients more compliant with treatment regimens (per Pew Research); this results in…
- Reduced re-admission rates, again improving your reimbursement rates
- All of this translates to your healthier financial bottom line
Transform the Waiting Experience into a Healing Experience!
WaitWell™ can help you triage your patient waiting experience with their FREE Triage Waiting Assessment.
Who is Karen D3?
Karen D. DeCuir-DiNicola (KarenD3) has an advanced degree in psychology, and decades of experience in corporate leadership positions. Her own waiting experience drives her mission for improving this experience for others.
Her mission is served through WaitWell™, a consultancy that is helping healthcare organizations to better serve their patient communities by turning the waiting experience into a healing experience, transforming the entire experience into an optimal patient experience.
Karen is a sought-after speaker on a national level, and has delivered presentations to the Conference Board, KPMG, Blue Cross Blue Shield Leadership Forum, Detroit Institute of Arts, Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, and Karmonos Cancer Center, among others. She has been quoted in the Harvard Business Review, and published in Becker’s Hospital Review.
She can be reached at karen AT waitwell.com
For Transparency: I have no financial relationship with Karen DeCuir-DiNicola or WaitWell.