Create a Virtual Waiting Room to Protect Patients & Staff And to up your digital practice marketing game!
Virtual healthcare interactions are on pace to top 1 billion by year’s end due in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic (Forrester predicts).
As practices slowly reopen after being shut doing from COVID-19 regulations, it has become necessary for every practice to embrace digital transformation and update their digital practice marketing tactics to help keep patients and team members safe and of course, keep your business relevant.
An excellent way to enhance patient safety and current social distance regulations is to integrate a virtual waiting room.
In fact, virtual waiting rooms gained immediate adoption across industries to respond to the social distancing protocol introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic.
What is a Virtual Waiting Room?
Simply put, it is a digital (mobile application, website, or both) way for your patients to join a queue of other patients. You then can manage the queue (usually first-come, first-served order or by appointment times).
Reasons Why You Need a Virtual Waiting Room for your digital practice marketing strategy
Virtual waiting rooms provide several benefits to medical practices, hospitals, and healthcare systems that seek to fuel sustainable telemedicine processes or replace a traditional waiting room experience for in-office visits with safer patient experience and proficiency.
Below are three reasons all medical practice should have a virtual waiting room.
- Virtual waiting rooms improve infection control: Infection control in the waiting room poses significant risks if not handled appropriately. Permitting patients to wait in their vehicles until a private examination room is available reduces the risk of infection for both patients and staff.
- Virtual waiting rooms are necessary for digital practice marketing that offer remote assistance like telemedicine: A virtual waiting room for these purposes can offer a strategy for medical office staff to manage the queue of patients scheduled for telemedicine visits and help patients to navigate the telemedicine process.
- Virtual Waiting Rooms is Patient Friendly: Traditional waiting rooms for patients have variables that cannot be controlled by office staff and that can be uncomfortable or disturbing for patients. Think of children crying, patients on the phone, etc. Allowing patients to wait in their vehicles gives them the privacy they need to spend their time as they wish, whether it’s simply waiting in silence, reading a book, or listening to music.
Appropriate measures can then be taken to minimize the risks to healthcare workers and patients.
The new policies and protocols to utilize when patients arrive
In order to implement a good digital practice marketing by using a virtual waiting room experience when patients show up at the office, it is necessary to provide them with information on new procedures before they arrive.
The safety protocols and policies to use when you create a virtual waiting room to protect your patients and staff:
- Chat/Messaging between patient and staff should notify staff a patient is ready to check-in and waiting in the parking lot.
- Signs outside the building and at the respiratory check-in stations inside the main hospital and medical office building entrances should also include the number to call.
- Additional safety protocols should indicate that all patients should arrive at the hospital or clinic with their own cloth face masks. Face masks must be worn over the mouth and nose for the entire duration of patients’ visits.
- Patients should also come alone unless they absolutely need assistance from a loved one.
One of the key purposes of a virtual waiting room is to reduce and limit physical interactions. This helps staff and patients maintain social distance during the visit, this is especially useful during the current pandemic. Having a tool to provide a virtual waiting room helps your patients and team members feel safe by setting time expectations, making it easier to come back into the clinic.
To help your office achieve this goal, we recommend that you adopt the following precautions:
- Patients are requested to use online tools as much as possible.
- Before coming into the office, make sure all patients are symptom-free.
- Any patients or other office visitors should wait in the waiting room first.
- Only clinical staff should have physical interaction with patients.
Virtual waiting rooms make great short and long-term sense. If implemented correctly, It should become a strong tool in your digital practice marketing because of the benefits including reduced physical wait times in-office, increased efficiency in patient flow, and the ability to help to support Telemedicine as a new point of reference in outpatient care delivery.
Implementing virtual waiting rooms doesn’t have to be difficult. Simple patient engagement solutions such as patient messaging, digital patient registration, and check-in can be integrated to create a robust virtual waiting room system. If strategically crafted with the other patient experience tools already in place, it is a sure-fire way of delight patients, ultimately increasing production for your practice.
TRG Digital can help your healthcare clinic create a virtual waiting room to keep your patients and staff safe. Additionally, our team can help you craft a holistic digital strategy that is custom to your practice to accelerate growth.