Perspectives on ...
| Waiting Rooms | Scheduling
& Test Results | Consults | Treatment
personnel sets the tone.
Hire friendly, smiling, optimistic office staff personnel who genuinely care about your patients. This is the most important aspect of making
me feel comfortable in your office.
Please have your staff wear name tags. People like to know the names of those they speak with. First names are sufficient. "Rank" is optional.
If it is necessary to keep the glass in front of the staff area closed, please put a sign on the patient side to the effect that if patients or caregivers need anything, please tap on the glass or open
Designate a staff person for patients to call if they have concerns or a problem - a contact person. If you are willing to communicate via email, please include your (or your staff's) email address on your appointment card, in addition to your telephone and fax
Advise your personnel to reach out and comfort
those who may be alone or seem apprehensive.
Please pay attention to the atmosphere in your office.
The more home-like it is the more relaxed and comfortable your patients will be.
Create a pleasant
and friendly environment in the waiting room.
flowers or live
or an aquarium with colorful fish, it helps to pass the time;
photographs of patient success stories (if HIPAA will allow),
a wide variety of magazines that appeal to all ages (including small children) and interests, and sufficient lighting to read in comfort;
a display place for any
free newsletters or catalogs of items of interest to oncology patients (wigs, head coverings, etc.),
a bulletin board for notices of support groups or seminars of interest to
a few lap
throws; ill people sitting for long
periods of time get chilly.
control. An air purifier will go a long way towards removing sometimes aromatic remnants of a lot of people packed into a small space.
control. There should be sufficient insulation to prevent patients from overhearing other conversations in exam rooms. "Elevator music" or easy-listening radio music can help, too, in the
waiting room, and can make it seem less sterile.
As you open and close your doors, think of your patients. Does it take both arms and a little muscle to open them? Patients may not have the strength to do so.
Easy access to restrooms is critical. If yours has a key, make certain it is hung in an easily accessible place that is readily visible. A "call button" in the restroom is a nice feature, too.
When choosing office
furniture, please remember patients come in all sizes. A couch that will comfortably seat a man more than six fee tall will not comfortably seat a five foot tall woman who has just had abdominal surgery.
A source of water and cups are nice. If you want to go all out, a coffee/tea/cocoa/hot water tray would be welcomed by patients who often must wait for long periods of time.
If possible, provide Internet connections for family members who may have to wait for patients are a real plus.
Kleenex boxes are essential.
Utilize waiting time:
provide educational information,
provide pamphlets on special services, such as pain specialists and care managers.
check if labs or
imaging results have been received, and that authorizations
and referrals are in order.
and Test Results
patients know what to expect,
they are less anxious and able to participate effectively in the
Please inform patients when delays are unavoidable.
Please return results of scans and similar tests as quickly as possible to reduce patient anxiety.
When patients are to be scheduled for a diagnostic test, it is helpful for them to have information about the test. What will it show? How do they prepare? What can they expect? How long will it be before they get the results.
Try not to leave anyone alone
for too long. Designate a person or care manager to be with patients who
are alone, especially if you sense that they are feeling
You can't have both on time appointments and plenty of individualized attention to all of your questions. I vote for the latter as more important. Some work to do and my ipod can make long waits go by and I appreciate getting my oncologists full attention. One day they were running quite far behind and I was amazed that when I did get seen, we had her full attention to every question we asked and never felt rushed at all. I couldn't do that, I would be stressing over the schedule, but I am glad my oncologist has that sort of concentration. I'm sure I made the delays even worse on the next people.
Patients seem to be viewed as a captive audience in any place that I've ever gone to, and an infusion of "customer service"
mentality would go a long way to improve the overall experience with scheduling, delays, billing issues etc.
"Besides being tiring and annoying, extensive waiting times are disheartening. We have been made to wait in the outer
waiting room one hour minimum at XYZ for our doctors appointments, and then we are shown to an exam room where we wait an additional 1/2 to one hour."
realism, inspiring trust and hope
Provide seating in the clinic room for the patient and their
caregiver, as well as the
Please read my chart before you come in.
Smile, and be
that this time belongs to me. Talking up to the standing doctor reduces eye contact.
Remember a few things about
and ask questions about my life, such as how I'm managing.
Please do not make me
feel rushed. Let me know if you are running late.
Be realistic, but always provide
me with some hope.
Please try to bring the medical terminology to
If you don't know what
my diagnosis is, be comfortable saying "I
the symptoms or feelings I describe.
(Patients can know that something is wrong, even when it
doesn't show up on lab tests.)
If you see that I'm too overwhelmed to absorb
the information, please schedule a second appointment for a few days
later, and refer me to a care manager or other resources for
assistance if needed.
Please do not give
me more than I am ready to hear or see. If I tell you I don't want to see an actual scan that shows tumor spread, please, please respect
During a consult,
please answer phone
calls only when they are emergencies.
Please respect, rather than discount,
my level of my knowledge, and correct any misinformation that
I might have received from the Web or other sources.
Please ask me if I'd
like copies of
test results, and explain abnormal finding, or provide me with the
educational materials necessary to interpret it.
It inspires trust
when you encourage me to get a second opinion. Please do not leave
it to me to ask.
Please include involve me in the
treatment decision, including clinical trials that I might be eligible for. (see
active listening: When I was first diagnosed, that oncologist spent all of the time talking about how wonderful the
UP Health System was and how they had the greatest staff and newest treatments. I expected cheerleaders to
show up at any second. When I met with my current
oncologist for the first time, he spent lots of time asking questions of me,
listening to my questions and responding accordingly. He is a good active listener.
patients know what to expect,
it can go a long way to prevent problems and optimize
it up: "He is very excited about what he learned at the ASH meeting this year. His PA, chemo nurse and office manager/receptionist are efficient, friendly and even at times a little
zany. We feel lucky to have found this practice close to our home. To sum up, we need doctors who listen, who learn, who realize we have our own best interest at heart and who keep their staff happy.
~ France (NHL-Info)