Children aren’t much different from adults in their hopes for experiences — both new and familiar. They seek comfort and a feeling of safety in most situations. Medical care is no exception. More reason than ever to improve the pediatric patient experience in your clinic.
Office environments, when designed with intention, can help to ease any fear, anxiety, or distrust of doctors a child may bring to an appointment. This helps to make sometimes difficult to treat patients more relaxed and easier to work with.
What are the most common barriers against improving pediatric patient experience?
Two challenges clinic’s must address with their patient experience:
How pediatric patients act within your clinic can range from uncooperative in moments of discomfort to a bad day, or consistently tough to deal with. This is often because fear and anxiety accompany many pediatric patients when it comes to appointments. These things are not always so much about your medical clinic, or even bedside manner, as they are about the overall anticipated experience, their previous experiences, and their perception of the environment.
Every time you meet these challenges with a heightened sensitivity to their experience, combined with a pediatric-centric environment, your clinic will grow — becoming a top tier provider in the minds of patients and parents. But how do you get there?
FIVE WAYS TO IMPROVE PEDIATRIC PATIENT EXPERIENCE IN YOUR CLINIC
1. Make it Personal
Young patients come to your clinic thinking about pinching, prodding, and often needles (a top trigger of fear). While none of those anticipations are completely inaccurate, there’s a lot more to their overall health than those brief moments of discomfort.
You can put them at ease by redirecting their attention away from their reason for being there during the first few minutes of your appointment with them.
- Notice something about them and start your conversation/relationship there (e.g. shoes, color or type of clothing, etc).
- Make the child comfortable by engaging with their parent or whoever accompanied them to the appointment.
Essentially, shift the focus to their interests first and build the rapport as a person they know. The result of this is likely to be a happier, and more compliant, young patient.
2. Familiarize Them with Your Tools and Equipment
Imagine what all the equipment in your treatment room looks like to a child. Otoscopes, swabs, and sphygmomanometers are often scary for an adult let alone a child, so it’s no wonder children have some hesitancy too.
Take a few minutes to introduce your young patients to the specific tools and technology you’ll be using for their appointment. Removing the unknown will help them to relax and make the process seem more normal.
- Give your equipment “fun” names that helps lighten the mood prior to usage.
- Allow your patients to ask questions about a particular tool or technology.
3. Create Trust with Step-by-step Communication
Clearly explaining what you intend to do before you do it can help earn trust from your pediatric patients. Think of it like a “show-and-tell” session at school.
- Demonstrate to them (within reason based on their age and the procedure) what each tool does. Let them see the ear scope, the stethoscope, etc.
- “Tell” them what’s about to happen next using friendly, non-threatening language.
4. Feature Child-friendly Themes and Distractions
A kid-centric environment sets the tone from when a family first arrives to as they get ready to leave. Paying special attention to details such as theming and hands-on amenities will pay dividends in keeping patients and families relaxed throughout their time in your clinic.
- Consider theming your office in friendly, light-hearted, child-centric decor.
- Create an environment that provides kids and families a memorable experience at each appointment with exterior decor.
- Offer kid-friendly programming in your reception area.
Update your waiting area with kid-friendly technology. Games, images, streaming video, etc. help them relax and feel at-home in your reception area.
Don’t want to disturb other adult patients? Utilize low-tech options like coloring sheets, books, and kid’s magazines.
5. Think Like a Counsellor
Your practice might be medicine but learning some behavior-management skills can help handle challenging situations and creative positive outcomes.
Good communication skills, patience, and some good old-fashioned adult figure presence can improve how your patients react.
- Speak with your pediatric patients’ eye-to-eye. Get on their level and speak in ways that they can understand.
- Use stories, a friendly tone, and any other ways to make your communication more kid friendly. This helps your patients feel comfortable and at-ease.
- Ask about their life, their interests, sports, school, etc.
IMPROVE YOUR PEDIATRIC PATIENT EXPERIENCE BY CREATING AN IDEAL ENVIRONMENT
Outstanding patient experience for children and families begins with a kid-centric mindset and environment. In essence, it’s an investment decision.
Invest in Your Patients
Valuing your patients and their families sets them up for a lifetime of positive health outcomes. The environment that you create directly helps patients have a more positive experience, encouraging them to think positively of medicine for years to come.
- Reduce patient anxiety and enhance their relaxation.
- Prime patients and families for their appointments.
- Create positive health care experiences.
Invest in Your Business
The medical space is more crowded than ever. Attention to details in your space can create an environment that sets you apart — something more important than ever with pediatric patients.
- Generate interest in your community
- Increase patient referrals
- Incite positive reviews online
Interested to learn more? Check out these related resources for upgrading, renewing, and improving patient experience:
Contact Imagination Design Studios (IDS) to get started transforming your office from a mundane to magical patient experience.