The importance of virtual waiting rooms during the pandemic
Friday, 16 April 2021
Digital health software has been extremely important during the pandemic
The experience of waiting - be that to get into a supermarket, pharmacy, post office or GP surgery - has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. With long queues and social distancing now being very much the norm, organisations are turning to technology to come up with solutions to these societal challenges.
The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation in almost every industry because of a pressing need for remote-based services. Virtual waiting rooms are a good example of this and are a way of transforming how we interact within a variety of people-facing services.
We’ve looked here at the benefits of a virtual waiting room in a healthcare setting and the wider benefits to businesses.
Benefits of virtual waiting rooms in a healthcare setting.
1. Facilitates social distancing
With an online queuing system in a virtual waiting room, patients can turn up to their appointment, check-in online and wait outside or in the comfort of their car until they are told they are next to be seen. A virtual waiting room completely removes the need for people to congregate in a waiting room or for complicated/costly social distancing measures. By minimising contact with others, virtual waiting rooms can actively lower the rate of transmission, which is critical in a pandemic (or even just in the flu season).
2. Digital data collection
On a similar note, a remote check-in means that forms can be filled out online rather than in the physical waiting room. This reduces the person-to-person contact with receptionists who hand over paper and shared resources like clipboards and pens, making the process contactless which protects both patients and staff.
3. Optimise time and costs
Additionally, retrieving this information digitally is not a labour-intensive exercise: with the pandemic putting a huge strain on healthcare workers, it is important tasks are carried out efficiently as possible. If virtual waiting rooms mean that a staff member does not have to take the time manually inputting required information into a system, their time can be spent more meaningfully and economically.
4. Put patients at ease
Understandably, the pandemic has accelerated a lot of people’s anxieties about public spaces. Virtual waiting rooms make patients feel more comfortable, reassuring them that they are in a safe setting. This will contribute to their positive patient experience, making them more likely to book repeat appointments that they might have been initially apprehensive about.
Benefits of virtual waiting rooms in a non-healthcare setting
1. Allocate delivery slots
The pandemic has seen e-commerce in the UK fly. In fact, the BBC reports that three-quarters of the UK now do their grocery shopping online. Virtual waiting room technology can be utilised in a number of ways to respond to this demand.
For example, you can allocate slots for click and collect, or, if they still want to shop in-person, customers can check-in then wait in their vehicle before they are told they can enter. Either way, this will increase sales as people will be more willing to shop if they can avoid a physical queue. With this absence, your business does not just feel safer, but customers are less likely to become frustrated after a long period of stationary activity.
2. Part of the customer journey
Waiting for any service can be a banal activity - not only is it boring, but also time-consuming. With virtual queuing systems, customers, clients and patients can get on with other tasks while they wait. Online waiting rooms also give you the opportunity to engage with your customers through brand identity and provide perks such as personalisation to help show your customer they’re not just another number. If used to their full potential, virtual waiting rooms can be an important tool in building a strong consumer relationship.
3. Improved communication
The pandemic has in many cases slowed down response times. Real-time status updates offer enhanced channels of communication between staff and customers. Is your service running behind schedule? Just hoping your customer won’t notice isn’t going to cut it - a virtual waiting room can let them know via automated text or email alerts. Your customers will appreciate the forethought and walk away with a better view of your organisation.
4. Shows you care about your customer
A survey by Quidini found that contracting COVID-19 was the top consumer concern when queuing for a service. If you can demonstrate that you value your customers’ safety as much as their cash, you can build a customer base that will return to you again and again.