4 Tips to Design and Decorate a Great Waiting Room

If you ask your patients how they feel about your rheumatology practice’s waiting room, they’ll probably agree; the less time they spend in it, the better.

While few people enjoy sitting in a waiting room, there are simple and inexpensive ways to improve the experience by making your space more comfortable and visually pleasing. Thankfully, you won’t have to wait for an HGTV special to pluck your practice out of the masses.

With the following four tips, you can easily give your office a pleasantly professional waiting room makeover. Keep reading to learn how to design and decorate a great waiting room.

Choose the ideal reception desk.

While new furniture won’t be in everyone’s budget, updating a few key pieces could make a big difference in your waiting room. Ensure the reception desk, which is often the first thing patients see and the first place they head, is easy to spot, clean, and welcoming.

Ensure that the desk fits the space you have. Too big, and it will seem imposing, too small, and it will get lost in the shuffle. Add a potted plant or fresh flowers to brighten up this spot.

Provide comfortable seating.

Figure out how busy your practice is on its busiest day, and make sure there is enough available seating to accommodate that number. Break up the space with some end tables and avoid placing chairs so that patients will have their back to the door. Poor seat placement makes many people nervous, especially where they already feel their most vulnerable.

A square or U-shaped arrangement is usually a safe bet, as it allows patients to choose their level of interaction with others. Another good idea is to sit in the seats yourself to gauge how comfortable they are.

[Is your office space limited? Click here for tips on optimizing small spaces.]

Pay attention to lighting.

Harsh fluorescent lights will make your patients feel as if they’re about to be interrogated. Soothe their eyes and nerves with a soft, bright light that feels a bit homier.

Try to include some natural light where possible as studies show that people have a resounding response to natural light

Don’t rely only on bright overhead lights; add some soft lamps to your end tables as well. Just make sure you don’t go too far in the opposite direction and make your waiting room overly dark. Remember that patients often must read and fill out paperwork, and adequate lighting is essential for such tasks.

Don’t be afraid of décor.

It’s the little things that have the most significant impact. If your office is bare-bones and devoid of personality or character, it won’t feel welcoming, and patients will quickly become uncomfortable.

Hang some art on the walls or add a patterned rug. Some other decorating ideas include:

  • Put some children’s toys in the corner.
  • Add a good selection of reading material to the tables.
  • A coffee station with a Keurig, hot water dispenser, tea bags, and natural sweeteners.

Your patients will appreciate these small touches and arrive for the appointments happy and relaxed.

We hope these tips help you take your waiting room to the next level. Do you have a space you are particularly proud of? If so, share a photo on our Facebook page—we’d love to see it!

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  • As a speaker at the first ad hoc meeting of rheumatology practice managers gathered in a single small room at its infancy a decade ago, I’m amazed to see how NORM has blossomed into a high energy organization of depth and professional meetings with parallel break-out symposia between plenary sessions. NORM has truly come of age. This is where the “business” of rheumatology gets learned. The ”guildmanship” for rheumatology practice management is now strong.- Paul H. Caldron, DO, FACP, FACR, MBA, Arizona Arthritis and Rheumatology Associates
  • In a time of demanding changes in the management of medical practices in the US, NORM has been a lifesaver to the community of Rheumatology practices.  NORM has allowed our practice to stay ahead of the many demands of CMS and others payors and has ensured that our practice remains cognizant of new issues that arise in HIPPA compliance, human resources and medical billing to name a few. Sending our Practice Manager to NORM's conferences has been cost-effective and beneficial to our practice because she returns to our office with an abundance of information that otherwise would have taken months to compile. Every Rheumatology practice that wishes to stay on top of emerging issues in practice management should consider sending a member of their staff to NORM's conference.- Michael S. Rosen M.D., Chester County Rheumatology PC
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