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The idea for this tip comes from a reader who has a unique perspective; she
is a sales rep for an optical laboratory who calls on eye care practitioners on
a regular basis. Her point is worth considering.
A good idea gone bad
In general, I think television monitors, especially attractive flat screen
displays, can be a good thing for your reception room. TV is a popular way to
pass the time and people enjoy it. Catering to patients and making their wait
more pleasant is right on target with the type of experience I recommend we
provide. But the programming that is shown can present a negative image for the
practice if you aren’t diligent. Since staff members often select the shows that
are tuned in, they may select what they like to watch (or listen to). If that is
the Jerry Springer Show, it could cast the office in a poor light. In fact, it’s
hard to select a show everyone will like, given the broad spectrum of the public
that we see. The Weather Channel or CNN or ESPN may be more appropriate for
No matter what the content, staff members should not be watching or listening to
television. Yet, with the TV in plain sight of the front desk, it’s pretty hard
not to watch at times. It’s a waste of office resources and it will surely
distract the employee from giving his or her best performance on the job. Beyond
the loss of productivity, patients do not like to see staff stealing company
How long is the wait?
Of course, if television is used to pass the time because patients usually have
a long wait, that is a problem that should be addressed first. It is not that
hard to start an eye exam within five or ten minutes of the appointment if the
office is efficient, has enough staff and does not make the check-in process too
complex. Pupil dilation, however, is a legitimate reason that makes patients
A trend in more progressive practices today is to display prerecorded material
about eye care services and products. There are a variety of video materials and
computer software programs available and designed for patient education. Some
programs may be purchased and some are available from industry suppliers at no
Generally, I think these programs are a good thing, but I would give the content
close scrutiny before showing it, and I would want it to pass my “consumer
interest test”. That test simply reminds us that patients are smarter than we
think and they certainly know a commercial when they see one. If the video
content in your waiting area is an obvious commercial, it may make your office
look like it is strongly interested in making sales.
Good video content will be interesting to most patients and will be a welcome
aid to people who are about to purchase eye care services and products and want
to know more.