When a health practitioner is looking to design their waiting room or equip it with furniture, they might only have a vague idea of how much things will cost. While you might have a general idea of how much you can afford to spend, you might have no idea which specific items you should prioritize or how much of the budget you should allocate to each one.
Thus, it’s important to know the essential elements in your clinic’s waiting room that will take the greatest priority in your budget. These elements include making your clinic interior compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) specifications, fully equipping the reception desk, and of course, making it possible for your patients to sit comfortably. You have to rein in your own excitement and spend money on the right things instead of buying zen waterfalls or bean bags for your patients on crutches.
Here are four tips that will help you choose the best furniture for your clinic’s waiting room:
Know your space
Before you even itemize the furniture you need to buy, you need to know how much working space you’ve got in your clinic. Determine your waiting room’s area using a measuring tape to find how many square feet of space you have. Then, estimate how crowded it will be at full capacity, assuming that it is already furnished. Would your patients be able to move around and wait comfortably? Will the waiting area feel too cramped? Your patients should also be able to walk straight from the clinic’s entrance to your waiting room and from your waiting room to the examination rooms. There should be enough space to minimize the turns a patient needs to make when moving from one place to another in your clinic.
Comply with ADA standards
The ADA explicitly requires clinical offices to be accessible to anyone, including persons with disabilities. The walking paths, in particular, should be at least 36 inches or 915 mm wide from wall to wall, while the floor area of your waiting room should be at least 25 square feet so that people in wheelchairs can easily turn towards any direction they need to go. Make a floor plan of your furniture that takes into consideration these space requirements required by the ADA. If you have an existing clinic, you can mark the spaces that need to comply with ADA standards so that you have a more concrete idea of the amount of space you will need in your waiting area.
Get a high-quality reception desk
The reception desk is the first thing patients will see and look for when they visit your clinic. Thus, you need to make it look respectable and long-lasting. You should also get a desk that is the appropriate size for your clinic. All the front desk staff stationed at the reception area should be able to work comfortably and move around with ease. The desk should have a wide tabletop where fax machines, phones, computers, printers, and any other working essentials can fit. It should also contain a storage room where mail, deliveries, or paper can be tucked away neatly to minimize the visible clutter in the waiting room. Seeing as your reception desk plays a crucial role in your waiting room, make sure that you don’t skimp.
Mind your seats
Your patients would have nowhere else to sit but on your waiting room’s chairs. Thus, there should be an adequate number of chairs in your waiting room. These chairs should be comfortable for them to sit on while waiting. At the same time, these seats should look good and long-lasting.
That being said, cramming as many chairs as possible into your waiting room can be counterproductive. Instead, you should adopt a check-in scheme that will reduce your patient’s waiting time so that you do not need to buy so many chairs. Identify the processes in your clinic that tend to cause long queues. Not only will this make it possible for you to save money but to improve your patients’ experiences as well.
You can use the money you free up from buying too many chairs to purchase other, better furniture and appliances such as tables, personal desks, and cabinets for you and your staff, air conditioners, or perhaps even a water feature if you are keen. However, ensure that you don’t make your waiting room too cluttered. Remember – you need to remain compliant with ADA space requirements.
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