5 Ways to Improve Patient Experience on Arrival

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Modern healthcare providers are under increasing pressure to deliver an exceptional experience from the moment patients walk through the door – to help, here are 5 ways you can improve patient experience on arrival.

1. Better Patient Wayfinding

Getting lost while visiting a hospital or healthcare practice is one of the most common pain points among patients and their visitors. Unsurprisingly, preventing visitors from feeling disorientated and anxious during an already stressful time is a great way to improve patient experience. And can generally be achieved with a fraction of the effort required for bigger transformation projects.

Your wayfinding network should be distinctive and easy to understand at a glance, with reception always clearly signposted wherever patients are on your premises. If digital check-in is available, kiosks should be easy to spot and user-friendly, which should include explicitly pointing out translation and accessibility features.

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As well as boosting patient experience, ensuring there’s clear wayfinding to help patients navigate your hospital or surgery can have profound effect on waiting times. After all, when patients get lost and arrive late to their appointment there is always a knock-on effect, pushing back all following appointments incrementally.

Improved wayfinding is a great first step in achieving a healthy patient flow, especially when paired with an efficient check-in process and effective patient calling. Rather than chaos in your corridors, you’ll be able to deliver seamless healthcare from the moment patients arrive.

2. A More Engaging Waiting Room

Full of sick people that would rather be anywhere else in the world, waiting rooms are a potential patient experience disaster and have been written off by some healthcare providers as areas that just test patience, not engage patients.

Obviously, waiting for (oft-delayed) appointments will always be a source of public frustration, but your waiting room can be transformed by the addition of digital displays. Using screens to display up-to-the-minute wait times can reduce this frustration, since unexplained waits actually feel up to 35% longer than when they’re addressed.

From entertaining young children to keeping adults up to date with the news, digital displays can improve patient experience by broadcasting a wide range of content. You can even create your own advertising collateral to inform patients about new services, warn them about local health issues or promote health schemes.

3. A More Inclusive and Accessible Healthcare Experience

There are now over 300 languages spoken in the UK, and one way to improve patient experience on arrival is simply ensuring all your signage and displays can be understood by everyone.

For traditional signage, replacing words with symbols, for example a heart for cardiology or a stethoscope for GPs, can help convey meaning quickly. Digital signage often comes with extensive translation tools, so any communications using these displays can be understood by non-native English speakers.

It’s equally important that you also consider ways to address inequalities in access to healthcare caused by disabilities by using strategies like:

  • Adjustable content-sizing and audio-visual aids for visually impaired patients
  • Replacing medical language with easily understood terms
  • Digital screens displaying patient calling to ensure deaf patients don’t miss their turn

Everybody deserves the best patient experience possible and small changes can have a huge impact when you focus on preventing patients becoming confused, alienated and disenfranchised. As we found when working with NHS Newham CCG:

“We’re responsible for the healthcare in one of the UK’s most diverse boroughs, so the ability to digitally publish our translated healthcare messages has helped us ensure we’re connecting with the whole community. Likewise, digital displays have proved invaluable in providing deaf patients in our community with accessible healthcare messages.”

Chris Riley, IT Project Manager, NHS Newham CCG

4. Implement Patient Self-Check-In

On arrival to your practice or hospital, the last thing your patients want to be greeted with is a long queue of people waiting to check in – especially if there’s little time to spare before their appointment.

As one of the first opportunities to deliver an incredible patient experience, check-in plays a large role in setting the tone for the appointment. A frictionless check-in process not only establishes a good experience from the get-go but goes a long way towards ensuring a healthy patient flow and preventing bottlenecks early in the patient journey.

Adding digital kiosks to your healthcare practice can help tackle the challenges of check-in by delivering an intuitive, engaging and swift experience. Good quality kiosks will integrate smoothly with your existing processes, help you verify demographic information and effortlessly perform patient engagement surveys.

Ensuring that your check-in procedures are effective and efficient also frees up your front-office staff for higher value tasks.

5. Empowering Your Front Office Staff to be Happier and More Helpful

Although your reception staff are far more valuable than just a smile and a friendly greeting, there’s little that the public appreciate more than a warm welcome. With patient satisfaction so heavily influenced by face-to-face interaction, this can help craft a positive patient experience from the minute they arrive.

But with so much on their plate, this is rarely a receptionist's most pressing concern. However, you can free up your front-office staff’s time by:

  • Improving wayfinding to reduce the amount of times they’re asked for directions
  • Implementing self-service check-in to reduce how long they spend checking patients in
  • Reimagining your patient calling systems so they don’t need to chase up latecomers
  • Introducing patient engagement technology to cut the amount of time they spend collecting and collating patient data

By reducing the time spent checking patients in for appointments you not only give them more time to deliver a warm welcome, but you also could provide the space needed for consoling family members, helping new parents or assisting patients through appointment booking.


It's hard to overstate the importance of patient experience for healthcare providers. Not only has it been heavily linked to increased patient engagement and therefore improved health outcomes, but it’s also likely to boost your reputation.

Obviously, this makes good sense for any healthcare organisation because with increased reputation, often comes increased opportunities – for example, higher patient retention and acquisition.

To learn more about improving the patient experience within your healthcare organisation, check out our eBook today.

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