Whether it’s waiting to board a plane or waiting to be seen for the next round of Botox injections, people crave digital content and interaction during the lull.
“I think the waiting room experience is one of the most important experiences of healthcare,” says Adam Hirsen, CEO and cofounder of UPshow Inc. (Chicago), the original social media TV platform for business. “This includes the ease of checking in and talking to the staff.”
And while no one wants to wait, a simple digital makeover can shorten the perceived wait time by supporting patient mobile behavior, such as making it easy for people to charge their phones or connect to the internet by providing free Wi-Fi and power cords.
“You want to make it a very friendly environment for a patient’s mobile devices,” Hirsen tells The Aesthetic Channel. “Creating a digital environment provides an overall lift to the patient experience that can ultimately make the practice more productive by helping to promote potential revenue streams for different treatments and products, as well as events and programs that may benefit patients.”
Rather than continuing to rely on a paper point of sale (pamphlets, magazines, printouts, coffee table pens), Hirsen believes TV and digital screens are the now. “These are the two primary ways people are used to consuming new content,” he notes.
Handing out electronic tablets to patients to access the latest magazine articles, preloaded games and other entertainment options can engage both adults and bored children while waiting. “With tablets, you can present your patient base with the latest and greatest news and medical content and materials,” Hirsen explains. “The practice has full control over choice and content.”
Hirsen says the cost of a simple digital makeover for an aesthetic practice is minimal at around $100 per service for hardware, like a media player to power a TV screen, and about $100 per month for a service subscription for TV or Wi-Fi.
As an alternative to cable, UPshow’s “Social TV” can be used to showcase social media related to local sports, local community and local news. The company also provides a simple digital signage tool for its TV to display office staff, events and announcements, plus promote patient well-being. “This makes the wait time more enjoyable and personal,” Hirsen says.
Digital and mobile check-in also have modest monthly fees, but without the need for hardware because these services integrate easily with the patient’s own mobile phone.
Advantages of digital check-in include shortening reception lines, maximizing privacy and the ability of patients to update their data and medical records.
Similarly, a healthcare kiosk allows patients to easily check-in, determine the requirements of eligibility, pay their copay (where applicable), sign forms and update information – all in less than one minute in some instances. “You walk up and start typing and tapping,” Hirsen says.
For a practice with an older patient demographic, a kiosk may be the way to go, as opposed to technology that integrates with a mobile phone for a younger/middle-aged patient demographic.
In fact, a new wave of mobile check-in options makes it possible for patients to check in directly from their phone, even before arriving, and receive real-time updates about their wait time status.
“Patients want simplicity, ease and things that tie into their mobile phones,” Hirsen observes.
A digital transformation in the waiting room not only heightens the patient experience, but may help drive the productivity of the practice, in part by increasing the visibility of various medical services and products, according to Hirsen.
“More and more practices are realizing that by capturing the patient’s attention with comforting, joyful and entertaining content through digital media, they can make the patient aware of medical education and additional services to bolster health and wellness,” Hirsen says.