Aug 21, 2023

Virtual waiting room feature aims to improve the patient experience

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Older people with health conditions may have a new-look virtual healthcare experience which promotes more user engagement and interest. [Source: Shutterstock]

Telehealth users are in for a glimpse of the future thanks to an innovative partnership that has created a new health and wellness literacy waiting room experience for patients attending virtual consultations. 

Key points

The sudden need for telehealth appointments during the COVID-19 pandemic meant millions of Australians were accessing healthcare services from their own homes, a newfound experience for many. However, a sense of normalcy has returned since 2022 with many healthcare providers opting for a return to traditional in-person appointments.

Still, there are those who utilise virtual healthcare, including regional and remote Australians, aged care providers, allied health specialists and even hospital emergency departments. Those users accounted for the 8.4 million telehealth consultations conducted during the first quarter of 2023.

But with concerns over the overall virtual healthcare experience, Coviu – a virtual care solution provider – and Tonic Media Network – a health and well-being media network – teamed up to deliver a new virtual waiting room experience.

It’s more than just the traditional repetitive music people are used to while waiting on hold. Content is updated regularly, featuring a bit of everything, including at-home mobility tips, health advice, mindfulness videos, lifestyle and diet insight and even some feel-good clips for patient enjoyment. It could be particularly beneficial for aged care residents and home care clients who enjoy additional healthcare information and news.

The positive virtual waiting room experience is seen as a game changer for Dr Joanne Thorburn, Clinical Psychologist at Embodied Psychology.

“Our virtual care clients are often coming from other things and can be distracted when they log on for their consultation. Introducing a virtual waiting room that is more than just boring music, has allowed us to create an engaging and welcoming experience that helps to focus our clients and get them prepared for the consultation,” Dr Thorburn said. 

“It also sets the expectation that while your clinician may not be there right when you log on, the time is not wasted and there are options for you to learn and relax.”

By offering a more interactive and engaging waiting room experience the hope is that patients will feel more satisfied once they meet with a doctor or healthcare specialist. Informative content creates engagement and interest, too. 

Meanwhile, research shows patients are more likely to return to clinics and doctors where they feel their time was not wasted, a necessity for older people with chronic conditions. For Silvia Pfeiffer, CEO of Coviu, this should provide immediate results for patients looking for a memorable healthcare experience.

“The very first interaction a patient has with a medical practice is often in the waiting room, and we believe that making this a positive space in a virtual setting is just as important as it is to make your physical waiting room look nice.”

The virtual waiting room experience will be available through telehealth care solutions provided by Coviu, which is utilised by a wide range of aged care providers, allied health professionals and GP clinics. 

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