First Impressions: Patient Care Starts in the Waiting Area

Whether we like it or not, a visit to the doctor or dentist is unavoidable. Once checked in, it’s quite likely you, other patients, and family members will spend some time in the waiting area – waiting. The comfort and condition of a waiting area speaks volumes and makes a lasting impression.

Numerous studies have been conducted to dissect and understand the patient waiting experience. Communication with staff, office hours, time with a medical professional, and the actual time spent waiting nearly always sit at the top of the list in terms of importance. Patient comfort in the waiting area is often mentioned as well. Although a comfortable, well designed waiting area does not reduce actual wait times, it can help patients and guests feel more comfortable and less stressed. In addition, from an optics perspective, the look and condition of a waiting area, to some, is an indication of professionalism.

As owners or employees, who see our space daily, we become familiar, if not immune to our environment. However, to the first-time or infrequent visitor, seemingly small things matter. In evaluating a waiting area, questions a physician, dentist, or practice manager might ask include:

  • When was the last time the waiting area was refreshed, does it show?
  • Does the furniture appear planned or accidental?
  • Do guests feel crowded or do they have personal space?
  • Is the furniture in the space made for a medical practice and does it meet sanitation, weight and other health-related specifications?
  • Is the waiting area set up so people can stay busy and productive while waiting?
  • Are fabric tears, stains, and worn spots visible?
  • If there is sound coming from a television or radio, how is the volume level and are patients being bombarded with advertisements?
  • Is the area comfortably lit?
  • Are there accommodations for the entire family, including children and older adults?
  • Are magazines and literature current and neatly organized?

What visitors and patients see and experience as they first walk in, (just as in any place of business) leaves an impression, accurate or not, about the level of professionalism of that office. Strategically selected and arranged furniture and accessories not only instill a sense of confidence, they also create a comfortable, inviting, and calming setting. Infinium Interiors can evaluate your space and provide recommendations for improvements. To schedule a quick, painless, and free Waiting Area Check-Up, contact us at

Related reading:
Facility Executive: Waiting Room Design
Medical GPS: Patient Experience Begins in the Waiting Room