Wednesday, 7 November 2012

A waiting room in need of a rethink.....

I'd like to redesign a waiting room I know as follows:

Firstly, I would ensure there were enough seats for waiting patients to sit on.  It doesn't seem too much to ask really, that instead of having to stand or sit on the floor patients could sit on a seat, particularly given the sometimes lengthy waiting times between appointment slot and actual consultation with a doctor.

The last two times I visited this clinic there were not enough seats, it's such a basic thing. I sat on the floor, it felt ridiculous and it wasn't comfortable.  I felt quietly outraged on behalf of other, older, in some cases seemingly sicker patients than me who were having to stand, or slump against the walls, if their self consciousness or wonky knees would not allow them to hit the floor with me.

Secondly I would allow reputable patient groups to display posters and medically approved literature that might be of interest to people waiting.

As a representative of such a group I once asked the endocrine nurse at this clinic if they would display a poster for an information event I was organising. He said it wasn't possible as the hospital doesn't own the walls. How very strange I thought and didn't push. I didn't have the energy to squabble. But if I was redesigning things I would ensure that the walls were available to be used for informational purposes to benefit patients. I know how much I longed for information and support in the early days of my illness, I know I'm not alone.

Those are the main things. I don't want much.

I know that hospitals have to be very careful about hygiene so I would have a nice laminating machine available somewhere in the hospital for such posters to be laminated easily before being  put up.

Thirdly I might have computer terminals in the waiting room where patients could post free text feedback about their experiences of the clinic and perhaps also post questions that they would like answers to or suggestions for improvements that could be made. There are currently terminals allowing patients to fill out a questionnaire but it is all tick box A, B or C and clearly designed in order to generate sterile statistics rather than actually intended to gather meaningful comments. I would change that.

I might even make those terminals dual purpose - so that as well as giving feedback people could look up information about their conditions, browse FAQs, or - hey how about this - provide answers or other input to qualitative research projects that the lovely medics in the clinic might be involved with.

Oh my, I'm getting fanciful, stop me before I go overboard.

I'm not going to even dream of seats of different sizes and heights, etc, to accommodate different people's comfort requirements. I'm not thinking about art or entertainment options, or fancy lighting or anything like that.  Though it would be nice to have some nice pictures to look at. I'm happy to take a book and sit quietly, but there are such things as basic needs and I would like to see them being met when people are sick and have to go to an outpatient clinic.  There I've said it. I've not been to that clinic for over a year but it still makes my blood boil when I recall how it was the last two times I went.

That's today's post for WEGO Health's Health Blog Post Month, #nhbpm, sticking to the prompt - "redesign a doctor's waiting room"

I'm not sure if this blogging every day is such a good idea. I feel like this post might come across as just a bit of a negative rant.   I'm also now wondering if I ought to share it with the clinic in question as it's about them. What do you think? Thanks for reading anyway.



  1. The whole blogging every day thing is tough! This redesign idea makes complete sense - it's simple,
    feasible, and keeps the patient in mind without inconveniencing others.

  2. thanks for posting Sarah! I read your diabetes blog and liked it a lot. My gran had diabetes, sometimes I wonder if I have some kind of low level pre-diabetes or something as I seem to be so sensitive to sugar. anyway, very nice of you to stop by and comment. *waving and smiling* to you.