‘Parking lots may have become the new waiting rooms,’ even after a vaccine for COVID-19
COVID-19 has done a lot to change the lives of so many worldwide. It’s caused shutdowns and quarantines. It’s closed businesses. It’s even influenced how many people are seeing their health care providers in person.
But could it eliminate the waiting room?
“Chiropractic waiting rooms should currently be quite different as compared to a year ago,” says Michael S. Evangel, DC, a chiropractic physician in his 35th year of practice in Paramus, N.J. “Parking lots may have become the new waiting rooms.”
Changing health care habits, despite a vaccine for COVID-19
Evangel explains the way that waiting rooms have changed.
“Maintaining a 6-foot perimeter around every person creates a situation in which only five patients could occupy a 10-foot x 10-foot waiting room without the use of partitions. Chairs and surfaces also have to be sanitized between patients, so chairs with fabric coverings wouldn’t be practical. Waiting rooms should also have enhanced ventilation systems, since most COVID-19 cases appear to be linked to respiratory droplets and respiratory aerosols.”
Because chiropractors cannot fit a lot of patients in the same waiting rooms that they could before COVID-19, they’re going to have to start being aware of their booking times for patients.
“The best way to deal with this problem is to get patients to show up on time and space out the patients so that they can be taken in and treated on time. This will minimize the patients that are waiting in a waiting room,” he says.
As for using parking lots as the waiting room, Evangel says that chiropractors can do this by having staff text or call patients on their cell phones to update them on treatment times and to tell them when they can come into the office. If a patient doesn’t have a phone — or one that you can easily text with — staff may have to go outside to let them know when it’s time for their appointment.
Time management issues
This change is going to cause everyone involved to be better regarding time management.
“My criticism of many doctors — chiropractors included — is that they overbook and do not respect their patient’s time as they should. Everyone’s time is valuable to them, and we should all respect that,” says Evangel. “Not having a waiting room may get patients to show up at their appointment time and have chiropractors stay on schedule. As time goes on, the staff will get a better feel for how to book everyone to prevent backups.”
While nothing in the future is certain, Evangel did provide some possibilities, even after a vaccine for COVID-19.
“Life is always dynamic and changing. This past year has produced many drastic changes and waiting rooms may very well end up being a thing of the past even after a vaccine for COVID-19. Another consideration is that magazines can’t really be in waiting rooms for patients to read if they can’t be sanitized between uses.
“We may see standing rooms instead of waiting rooms, with patients waiting a short time before entering the treatment areas. A standing room would just be an empty area that would require minimal cleaning, since no one would be touching anything inside of that empty room. TV monitors could be placed in the standing room with chiropractic education videos playing to keep the patents occupied for that brief time period.
“One problem with that concept is that some acute chiropractic patients may not be able to stand for long if at all.”