What Technologies are Coming to the Waiting Room?

Posted on March 30, 2015 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Waiting Rooms

I saw this image and couldn’t help but laugh. I laugh partially because waiting in a doctor’s office is probably the only time I read a magazine these days. There’s something fun about reading a 3 year old Sports Illustrated in a doctor’s office. Although, I’m often checking my phone instead of the magazine. So, I guess like most consumers I’ll take both.

However, more importantly, this funny image started me thinking about what technologies we’ll see in the waiting room of the future. There are a number of companies (Phreesia and Epion Health) that are working with clinics to provide patients with clinic provided tablets in their waiting rooms. These mostly offer patients a way to digitally check in for their appointment, make paymens and possibly some patient education. These companies often have an interesting model that’s based on advertising or data collection and so be careful to ask the company how they make their money if you choose to go that direction.

What’s even more interesting to me is how we’re going to start leveraging patients’ devices in the waiting room. The majority of them have one and that number is going to continue to grow. The challenges is that it can be tough for a medical practice to make a really good use case for why a patient should download their app. Now imagine you’re a chronic patient. Would you download a new app for each doctor you visit? I’m a little torn on how this is going to play out, but someone is going to make some headway and really start leveraging a patient’s own device as part of the visit and that includes the time they’re waiting.

Whole companies have been built around technology to stream content to a TV in physicians’ waiting rooms. They usually provide them to the doctor for free and then make their money on the advertising and sponsored content they provide. It turns out that patients waiting in an exam room are an extremely captive audience. Plus, you can often target the advertising based on specialty (ie. GYN is mostly women, pediatrics are often parents, etc). However, how effective will this be if we all have our heads in our devices while waiting for the doctor?

Of course, telemedicine is starting to make the waiting rooms more empty. We still have a long ways to go with that and we’ll never entirely replace the office visit, but that will definitely change the dynamic of how we wait for a doctor.

I still feel like I’m not thinking far enough outside the box. What do you think? How will the waiting room of the future compare to today? What technology will we find in waiting rooms?