Doctors should pay attention to their waiting rooms

It is no wonder that the older we get, the more doctors we need to visit.
This is a call for all you Jewish and other doctors who may be reading this article to improve the waiting-room experience.
Being the observant person I try to be, I have become a self-certified “expert” of doctors’ waiting rooms. Let me explain.
Having observed the various activities which patients go through in the waiting room, such as checking-in, watching TV, reading magazines, etc., I decided that there is more to this than meets the eye.
First of all there is the “health” issue. It is wise to carry disposable sanitizing wipes.
Obviously most patients in the waiting room area are sick or think that they are sick.
The doorknobs may hardly ever been sanitized. Then there are all those germ-laden piles of attractive magazines. Forget those and bring your own “healthy” reading material.
My warning about germ-laden magazines applies to children’s toys lying around as well. Bring your own child’s toy to play with.
Examining rooms and waiting rooms are cleanest early in the day. Try to get an early appointment, before the germs pile up.
In some doctors’ waiting rooms there may be some additional hidden dangers such as false, misleading, and unhealthy advertising in some of those magazines or on wall posters, a violation of Jewish ethics.
Some medical offices have continuously running TV displaying, and encouraging viewers to inquire of their doctors regarding, certain medicines and supposed health products.
Studies have shown that patients pay more attention to health-related information displayed in their doctor’s office and waiting room than they do elsewhere.
Informative displays are good, but products being pushed by pharmaceutical companies really should not be displayed.
Physicians need to be concerned that the magazines and posters in their waiting rooms contain beneficial, not harmful, information, such as cigarette ads and unhealthy dietary supplements.
I am happy to say that I have begun to see some waiting-room improvements which I hope will “catch on.”
If waiting rooms are small, then patients should not have to wait any longer than their appointed time.
This is an old story of doctors cramming too many patients into a limited time frame.
Office staff needs to check the waiting room every so often, straightening magazines, sanitizing door handles and checking waiting patient’s needs.
If television is provided, it should be silenced except for those who wish to request headsets.
Cellphone use should be discouraged. Loud conversations are a “no-no.”
Some recent improvements I’ve noticed are the replacement of magazines with coffee-table books about travel, animals, gardening and an atlas full of colorful maps.
I have also noticed that some of the old wall posters promoting medicinal products have been replaced by the much more pleasing woodland and seascape scenes of Mother Nature.
Some doctors have recognized a need for change and have experimented with various lighting techniques to help improve the waiting-room experience. A calming environment is a big plus.
Salt-water aquariums have proven to be very comforting and relaxing to observe, but may be too cost-prohibitive for some doctors.
Probably the most significant concern of patients beyond their illness is the wait time before seeing the doctor.
Anything the staff can do to minimize the appointed wait time will usually result in a more satisfied patient.
A study by the Journal of Ambulatory Care Management concluded that the physical environment of health care facilities influences patients’ waiting experience and their perception of quality of care.
My wife and I frequent numerous Jewish doctors. We appreciate the efforts made to reduce the anxiety connected with “going to the doctor.”
The waiting-room experience can be a significant aspect of the healing process.

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