Greetings.  Even if it wasn't the height of cold and flu season, all of us would still be spending a lot of time waiting to see the doctor.  It's just the way things are here and everywhere else.  After all, they're called "Waiting Rooms" for a reason.  It's a name that seems completely clear in setting our expectations.  They're not called "Express Service Rooms" or "Instant Care Rooms" or "Hurry Up and Get Better Rooms."  They're just plain "Waiting Rooms."  And they're an integral part of the design of most healthcare systems.  Because while healthcare treatment might be a rapidly advancing science, healthcare delivery is a slightly less precise process in which all of us wait to be seen.  It's a classic problem of managing customers by creating a never-ending backlog.  And, if you have a slightly sick sense of humor, it's absolutely brilliant.  Get a bunch of people to hang out in uncomfortable chairs filling out redundant forms, reading outdated magazines, and sharing the H1N1 virus and other exciting germs with a group of total strangers.  All in the name of improved health.  Sounds like a pretty cool concept.  But maybe we could use our collective genius to do better.

So on my most recent visit to the doctor, I started thinking about what it could mean to reinvent the waiting room as a place for learning, having fun, and getting healthier.  A place where I could discover new ideas for taking care of myself that might actually enable me to turn the clock back.  A place where I could explore new approaches to addressing the conditions that bother me today or might bother me in the future.  A place where I could test my medical knowledge and validate my daily healthful living practices by playing games.  A place where I could do brain energizing activities to rev up my mental capacity and focus.  A place where I could learn new stretches and physical exercises that would restore my posture and sense of balance.  A place where I could taste healthy foods and receive guidance on recipes and diets that would improve my digestion, vitality, and functioning.  A veritable mini-exhibit hall of healthy and mindful insight and behaviors designed to improve my well-being even before I saw the doctor, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner.  Delivered to me by a resident educator, LCD screens, iPod downloads, colorful worksheets, and interactive displays.  A place designed to make me healthier rather than simply treating me when I got sick.  

Now that would be something worth waiting for.

Waiting Room 

We win in healthcare, business, and life by making the most of every minute.  By changing waiting time into time that matters.  By making those we serve more knowledgeable and "healthier."  Are you and your organization worth waiting for?