A 5-Step Guide to The Ultimate Waiting Room Experience

If your #1 goal is to reduce the amount of time patients spend in your waiting room, your #2 goal should be to reduce the perceived time patients spend waiting. According to the latest research, perceived wait time affects patient satisfaction more than actual wait time! How do you help your patients feel like time flies when they’re in your waiting room? Follow these 5 steps:

Be Mindful of Wait Times

80% of patients feel less frustrated when they are kept up to speed on expected wait times, and nothing builds trust like transparency. Let your patients know that you see them and understand the value of their time by keeping them updated on expected wait times. For an exceptionally long wait (we all know this can happen!), present your patients with a $10 coffee gift card, apologize for the inconvenience, and thank them for their patience. They will love you for this.

Provide Healthy Snacks

Waiting is a little easier with a drink in hand. Set up a self-service hospitality station that offers coffee, bottled water, and an array of light snacks and fruit. Not only does food and drink provide a welcome distraction, but nutrients and hydration can calm anxiety as well. That’s a two-for-one.

Educate and Entertain with ADA TV

Research suggests that patients spend an average of 14 minutes in a waiting room. Educate, entertain, and engage your patients during that time with ADA TV. The simple plug and play system essentially loads and runs itself. It streams ADA Toothflix educational videos and 3D animations, digital signage promoting services, news, sports, finance, entertainment, and you can even customize with your own practice videos or images. All you do is insert the ADA TV stick in to your HDTV and turn it on. It’s really that easy.

Bring the Outdoors In

For years, studies have shown that nature helps with lowering stress levels. As your patients’ anxiety builds while they wait, potted plants strategically placed around your waiting room will provide mental refreshment and lower stress without your patients even realizing it. Go one step further by framing and hanging nature scenes to soothe, comfort, and add an aesthetically pleasing ambiance to your lobby.

Offer Free WIFI and Work Space

After 20 minutes of waiting, patients generally begin to feel like they’re wasting time. Make your waiting room work-friendly by providing tables, charging stations and free WIFI, so patients can work on their laptops and feel productive. Think Starbucks.


The bottom line: no one likes to wait, and for many, the waiting is the most stressful part of a dentist appointment experience. What will you do this month to enhance your patients’ waiting room experience?


PBHS is the exclusive provider of the ADA TV and is ADA Member Advantage Endorsed for Website Design, Marketing and Secure Email.

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