Encourage, Not Restrict, Cellphone Use!
The office has phones ringing off the hook, there are multiple conversations taking place at the front desk including, most likely, some of a personal nature and unrelated to work, and the poor patient cannot have use of their cell phone! The use of cell phones is one of few activities that might allow the patient to be somewhat productive while enduring an interminable wait for the provider!
The patient, without his phone, will instead be staring at the clock on the wall wondering what could possibly be taking so long while listening to receptionists joke and banter about their last dates and annoying patients they had to deal with earlier. Patients are wondering why the receptionists are not being more attentive and concerned about how long they have been waiting or keeping them informed of what is happening.
Do you think it is “rude” behavior for a patient to use a cell phone while in your waiting room? Consider the contrary: a “Please turn off all cell phones” sign is a rather patient-unfriendly gesture that indicates a lack of consideration of the patient’s time.
Be a Good Host To Your Patients
The one thing that you DO want to do, where long waits are often inevitable, is to provide as many distractions as possible for patients so they are not laser-focused on the second hand of the wall clock and becoming progressively annoyed by staff that appears more concerned with their own affairs than taking care of them. This means that cell phone use is not only OK, but it is a wonderful thing to be encouraged and facilitated by providing free, high-speed wi-fi internet access in the waiting room area. Soft drinks, coffee, or at least water should be provided for those that might be thirsty. A wide-screen TV showing a program that would be interesting to all is a third useful distraction. Making the patient as comfortable as possible and keeping them informed of delays and anticipated wait times will help patients pass the time while waiting for a provider that becomes unavoidably detained, and increase patient experience satisfaction.