However what usually also happens is that patients take time off from their work or school and rush to the physician /dental office on time only to be kept waiting for a while. I understand that physicians and dentists can run late sometimes due to a difficult case, but what I don’t get is why can’t the office call us ahead of time and let us know that they are running late. In this age of wireless communication there is really no excuse for keeping someone waiting.
As I was waiting at the dental office today for my daughter to be called in (almost 20 mins, which is not that bad), I wondered what could the practice do to make my waiting more enjoyable or even productive. There were the usual entertainment suspects- the omnipresent People magazine, Time, Sports Illustrated etc. But young children have no interest in these and frankly neither do I during a busy work day. I would like to check my emails or read an article on the web on my smartphone or tablet, but I don’t want to use up my 2GB monthly limit. How about providing free Wi-Fi while patients wait to be called? Before you go all HIPAA on me, let me say that I am a huge data security proponent and would not recommend giving visitors access to your office network and risking a potential patient data breach. But what you can do is set up a separate or segregated wi-fi network with a different SSID name for patients. It can be configured to allow only internet access to guests while ensuring the security of your corporate network. Business grade wifi access points or routers will be able to do this. Setting up a guest wifi network is not difficult and I plan to blog about it.
Less impatient kids in the waiting room, parents able to get some work done if needed and less time spent looking at the clock waiting to be called. I wouldn’t mind waiting for my appointment , maybe wont even notice it. In this day and age, with consumers able to tweet and/or blog about their experiences, anything that will provide a positive experience at your practice, especially having to do with wait times, will be greatly appreciated. Consider free wi-fi as a good investment in retaining happy patients and generating increased referrals for your practice. This extra effort on your part shows the waiting patients that you not only care about their health but also value their time. It will not go unnoticed and will differentiate your practice from others in the area.