I’ve posted on this topic in the past but in certain generalities and as I’ve had conversations about the topic I’ve done more research to continue supporting my claim about waiting rooms being a great place to promote preventative care measures and reduce the risk of admission or readmission.
To do this I needed to pull numbers and do some quick math to get a sense of the universe. I also decided to use a sample size so I didn’t have to be generic in my comments. So, I decided to focus on a population we can make certain assumptions about and not feel guilty. Kids.
A report for the CDC in 2011 shows that the number of outpatient visits by patients under 15 years of age was 24,075,000 or for our quick math, 24 million. Now, about the assumptions, I would think any child under 15 is not visiting the doctor alone. Therefore I would need to assume that for each visit there is at least one adult. My number has now increased to 48 million.
Another study has shown that the average wait time to see a doctor in the US is 24 minutes. If I bring my 48 million number back and multiply it by 24 minutes, we get about 1.1 billion. That’s over 18 million hours of wait time just for outpatient visits under 15 years old; imagine what the number looks like as a whole.
You’re probably thinking at this point the math I used is wrong or is in some way inflated, it isn’t. But it’s not entirely accurate in its delivery. We still only have 24 minutes to influence 2 different people in two distinctly different categories to take an action which will reduce their likelihood of admission or readmission while improving their overall health. How do we do that?
First, I think it’s important to say that there isn’t one single way to drive action. However, if we imagine ourselves as an adult accompanying a child to the doctor, we will likely find we turn to the television showing Judge Judy or some other cable programming for entertainment during the 24 minute wait. And because we know from numerous studies, the average consumer has a lower attention span than the average goldfish, which means how content is delivered is more important than ever. Digital signage in waiting rooms presents a unique opportunity to interact with patients and prospective patients through video content.
By combining clinical with lifestyle and wellness videos, you can create an experience for your waiting patients and their accompanying adults that not only entertains them (as Judge Judy does) but also educates them on preventative measures and empowers them to make changes in their lifestyle that could result in fewer visits. Remember, the patient isn’t the only one in the waiting room and using health and wellness oriented content delivered through digital display can influence behaviors that will drive down re-admissions and prevent adverse events from ever taking place.
So, let’s start to use those 18 million hours of wait time wisely by turning off Judge Judy and turning on health and wellness oriented content.