Can You Speak A Little Louder?

check-in privacy image
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We’ve all been there. We’re checking in and the setup is so abysmal that the registrar and ten other perfect strangers are all privy to who we are and why we’re here. This seems like a common sense issue, so why is it so often a problem?

The “Sliding Glass Hole In The Wall”

The most common solution to reception in a medical facility utilizes simple wall openings with sliding glass panels. If you’re lucky, the person behind the glass will see you coming, slide it open and greet you warmly, but often you are left to tap on the glass to try and get someone’s attention. Talk about friendly and inviting. While some will argue that it is necessary to have the sliding glass to contain private phone interactions and conversations that may be taking place on the staff side, it is worth a thoughtful discussion and if it must be there, there are ways to do it that can minimize the negatives and make it more inviting.

How is information gathered?

Each practice or hospital organization may differ in the information they need to gather as each patient arrives. That said, there are some common denominators, and if the data systems in use allow some self check-in using a kiosk (think airport!), there is an opportunity to reduce the bottleneck and create a more pleasant experience all around. One of our clients actually uses iPads in a permanent mount to allow patients to check-in. It works very well.

Of course, sometimes there is so much information to be gathered that it is appropriate to provide seating and more separation for each registration position. In these cases, it is important to provide a lower projecting counter, chairs, and sound-absorptive sidewalls.

Thoughtful programming

Lastly, how the overall reception area is planned is key. While it is important that the reception staff be able to view the seating areas (and patients want to be seen so they don’t feel they’ve been forgotten), it is equally important to give enough breathing room to the reception functions that those who are waiting are not within easy earshot of each interaction. On one hand, this may lead to the need to plan for more space for waiting and reception…but if the programming of the remainder of the facility (its clinical exam and treatment spaces and operational patient flows) is handled properly, the number of people to be accommodated in the reception areas can be minimized.

The result can be an attractive space, providing a good first impression and appropriate privacy, which will lead to greater patient satisfaction with their overall experience.

What are some creative solutions that you have seen work?