How to Design the Perfect Waiting Room

Written by on December 1, 2017 in Features, Slide - No comments

To be realistic, nobody appreciates waiting in the lobby for their doctor’s appointment. However, it’s something we all have to do now and then. Research found the normal time a person spends in a specialist’s waiting room is around 21 minutes. Therefore, as a medical or dental practice, it is critical to guarantee your patients feel appreciated and welcome while they are sitting in your waiting room. Your lobby should represent that you and your practice value them as patients and will make their stay in your lobby as comfortable and productive as possible.

Focus on Patient Flow

When orchestrating your waiting room, you need to put thought into where your visitors will enter and exit, and ensure these areas are clearly marked. There is nothing more frustrating than appearing for an appointment and having no clue where to go. You need to ensure the patient traffic flows unreservedly around the front desk and doesn’t bottleneck. This will run smoother if you have different entrance and exit areas which will keep the movement moving in one direction.

Front Desk

Your front desk is the focal point of your waiting area. It ought to be welcoming and clean. When patients arrive, be sure the desk is free of papers, boxes, and bundles. Keep in mind, your front desk should be big enough to conceal all the equipment needed for admittance and billing procedures including telephones, PCs, printers, and scanners. There should be plenty of room behind the counter for your staffs’ individual work spaces, including their personal items.  For HIPAA and security reasons, the monitors need to be positioned away from the patients’ view to ensure classified information remains confidential. The physical design of your front desk should flow with the style of your waiting room. Regardless of what materials you are thinking about for your front counters, (wood, metal, granite, etc.) the most vital thing is to gauge everything and anticipate growth needs. It’s better to have too much space than to have too little! It’s the only way to ensure no future issues.


Estimating the seating area and the number of seats needed is imperative to the success of your lobby. The designed space needs to look proficient and alluring while being comfortable to your patients. To estimate how much furniture you will require, consider the number of lobby seats that would be utilized by your patients at your busiest time of day and add about 50% more to accommodate companions they might bring with them. Keep in mind when you are measuring, to leave space for visitors to move around unreservedly and for an agreeable spacing between seats. Remember to allow clear passageways for wheelchairs to maneuver through your waiting area.

Most doctors prefer chairs over sofas in their waiting area, because no one wants to sit next to a coughing, sneezing, or otherwise contagious stranger. Also, elderly and over-weight patients often have difficulty getting up from a sofa without the help of two sturdy arm rests. Consider clustering chairs to avoid lining up furniture around walls, but no more than five in a group. Create seating vignettes as you would in your living room. Planters can also be used to keep the air feeling fresh, and to create visual separations between furniture groupings.

When picking what seating will work best in your lobby, there are several things to consider:
  • Is it comfortable? Uncomfortable seating can really make the waiting seem longer, so the best test is to try the furniture before you buy it. Would you be comfortable sitting in it for 20+ minutes?
  • Size matters. Consider the majority of your patients, their sizes, ages, and portability. This will determine your seating requirements to accommodate your patients.
  • What sort of upholstery will you require? Blended textures have a tendency to be sturdier than normal ones and function admirably in high usage areas. Additionally, the tighter the weave, the longer the texture will survive in your waiting room. Vinyl seating is another financially savvy choice and can be treated with a perma block which fights against germs, scraped area, and stains, and it’s easy to clean and sanitize.
  • Cost and furniture availability. Lastly, after deciding on your furniture needs, the cost and when you need the furniture will be important factors to keep in mind. Make a point to leave a sufficient lead time on the off chance that you will be requiring to have your waiting room redesigned by a specific date, like an open house, for example. There is nothing more frustrating than waiting until the latest possible time to order and not having your new furniture for your big day.
Pick colors precisely

The shades of color of the furniture you pick, and additionally the shades of your walls and dividers, can directly affect the way your patients feel. In the event that you are designing a specialist’s lobby, you might need to pick quieting or consoling hues; for example, green or blue with a touch of pink for empathy. Blue indicates genuineness, faithfulness, and security, while green is quieting. This is why, if color choices are to be made in the waiting room, picking a delicate blue-green color scheme can help convey a peaceful setting to your patients. In other office lobbies, for example, in a salon, a pink shade may tell your customers they will be spoiled, while yellow and red may cause uneasiness and animosity. When picking colors, keep in mind you may need the shades to be reflected all through your office. On the off chance that you are uncertain about what colors will work best, try viewing color samples to perceive how they will look in your space and lighting.

A dash of style

When you have chosen your furniture and color schemes, you need to select the style you’d like your lobby to convey to your patients. Pick elements individuals will remember after leaving your practice. For instance, set yourself apart by including nice paintings from local talented artists, an aquarium with extraordinary, colorful fish, or a flowing water sculpture. All these will allow your patients to unwind while waiting in your lobby for their appointment. Your waiting room is also an ideal place to display literature about your practice.

Set the tone with lighting

Changing the lighting in your lobby can improve the solace of your patients and can set a specific frame of mind. Delicate, brilliant light creates a feeling of quiet and is great in a business office setting. Low, warm light, though, emanates an “enjoyable” quality and can add to the comfortable feeling of your waiting room. Artificial lighting can be harsh at times, so you might need to avoid bright light bulbs in your lobby. Natural light can make your space look bigger on the grounds that windows let in the beauty and spaciousness of the outdoors.


Just because your patients are in your waiting room, doesn’t mean their work stops. This is why you should consider making electrical outlets and charging stations effortlessly available, so they can charge and utilize mobile phones, tablets, and laptops while they are waiting. Free Wi-Fi should also be offered, and keep in mind to give the password. Also while they are waiting is the ideal time to advance your practice with the utilization of innovation. Use wall mounted monitors to show data about your identity or even give a virtual visit of the practice (especially for first time patients).

Your work isn’t finished

You may have set up the ideal waiting room, but that is not all you have to do to keep your patients content:

  • Make sure your receptionist smiles and is pleasant and helpful to all your patients (even on the worst of days). He or she is the main contact for your practice and can set the tone for the whole visit.
  • Keep your waiting room clean, including the front counter. A jumbled lobby can give patients a negative image of your practice and for what’s to come during their appointment.
  • Make guests feel welcome by giving them a place to hang their jackets, spruce up, or even a place to get a drink of water or a cup of coffee.
  • Try your hardest to not keep your patients waiting. There will be times where this is quite unrealistic. However, make it the exception, not the rule.
Final thoughts

An ideal approach to knowing whether you’re waiting room is an extraordinary place for your patients is to place yourself in their shoes. Sit in your lobby and experience how it feels to you. Do you feel comfortable and welcomed? Have your staff do likewise and record any suggestions that are made. You even might consider surveying your patients to check whether they have recommendations.

By Vishal Gandhi, BSEE, MBA
Founder and CEO, Clinicspectrum

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