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How Virtual Waiting Rooms Protect Patients, Staff, and Productivity
A traditional waiting room can be a melting pot for germs and bacteria. Learn how a virtual waiting room protects patients and staff by reducing their risk of exposure to infection. Possible side effects: more pleasant patient-provider encounters, increased patient and provider satisfaction, better adherence to social distancing best practices, and improved overall outcomes.
May 2020, 90% of patients globally reported that the quality of care was as good or better with the recent surge in virtual care than care quality before COVID-19.1
What is a “virtual waiting room”?
If you’ve been out to eat at a restaurant in the past few years, you may have noticed a change in the experience of waiting for a table. Rather than asking you to stay within earshot while you wait, today’s hostess will likely request your cell phone number and offer to text you when your table is ready.
The text-to-table process makes the entire experience feel more personal, comfortable, and customer-centric. That’s because waiting is less unpleasant when you are free to do what you want—where you want—until the moment your turn arrives. Now, the same experience has become essential in healthcare to minimize patient discomfort and protect public safety with social distancing.
A virtual waiting room (aka mobile waiting room, zero-contact waiting room, or curbside check-in) is a service that allows patients to check in using their mobile phone and notifies them through a direct text message when it is their turn to be seen by the doctor.
An ideal virtual waiting room serves two essential purposes:
- Giving in-person patients the freedom to wait for their turn privately in their car or wherever they choose, rather than being confined to a stuffy, crowded waiting room and risking exposure to new germs and potential illness.
- Facilitating a smooth check-in process for telehealth visits.
Both purposes improve the patient experience and encourage healthy practices.
Why are virtual waiting rooms essential for in-person patient visits?
31% of patients say they are uncomfortable visiting a doctor’s office and 42% are uncomfortable visiting a hospital.2
Traditional waiting rooms that require patients to touch shared surfaces and breathe shared air are both uncomfortable and unsafe in the current environment. Virtual waiting rooms serve the important health purpose of enabling social distancing, and they also enhance the patient experience.
Unlike a traditional waiting room, a virtual waiting room reduces the risk of patients (and staff) associating your organization with frustrating factors beyond your control, which may include pesky sounds, smells, other people, and even boredom. As demand rises for a safer, more comfortable healthcare experience, virtual waiting rooms are the key to getting patients in the door while increasing their odds of leaving satisfied.
How can virtual waiting rooms apply to video visits?
Ideally, the same virtual solution used to help manage in-person patient visits can be adapted to also queue up video visits, allowing providers and patients to indicate when they are ready.
What’s the best way to implement a virtual waiting room?
In short, work with what you’ve got. If you have a patient engagement solution that can also facilitate a virtual waiting room and video visits, talk to your vendor about the next steps for launching a virtual waiting room.
If you do not have a solution for two-way texting or video visits with patients, or if you are looking for a replacement/upgrade to your current system, focus on finding a solution that can do the following:
- Automated Appointment Reminders to Patients
- Pre-Appointment and Pre-Arrival Instructions to Patients
- Patient Arrival Notification via Simple Text
- Entry Notification and Office Navigation Guidance
- HIPAA-Compliant Video Connection
- Scheduled and On-the-Fly Video Visits
- Connect Without Requiring App Downloads or Passwords
- Caller ID Protection for Providers
- 24/7 Connection
Here’s a streamlined patient experience with an organization using all of the above capabilities:
Key Benefits of an Integrated Virtual Waiting Room
Virtual waiting rooms are extremely beneficial to patients, staff, and organizations that implement them, especially when they are integrated with other patient engagement solutions, such as video visits and HIPAA-compliant messaging.
Some of the top benefits include:
- Patient Protection and Safety
- Increased Patient Satisfaction
- Reduced Frustration for Patients and Staff
- Efficient Patient Intake
- Reduced No-Shows
Get Started Now to See Benefits Sooner
Give your patients a safer, easier solution for maintaining their healthcare with a user-friendly, integrated virtual waiting room. To see how it works, click below.
- Virtual care here to stay, PharmaTimes, Brad Michel, Jul. 21, 2020: pharmatimes.com/web_exclusives/Virtual_care_here_to_stay_1345204
- Breakdown of Changes in Consumers’ Health Care Behavior During COVID-19—INFOGRAPHIC, Alliance of Community Health Plans (ACHP), May 21, 2020: achp.org/research-breakdown-of-changes-in-consumers-health-care-behavior-during-covid-19