The Patient Waiting Room Rethought

Photo curtesy of Joseph Babaian (@JoeBabaian)

Yesterday Joe sent this tweet asking the #HCLDR family their opinions on the opportunities for improving the design within the above spaces.

My initial gut reaction, as many other people, was in pointing out the obvious. Things such as the TV, the picture on the wall, the chairs, the framed signed on the table, a lamp that is off, etc.

I even questioned the need for a waiting room? In theory, no patient should have to wait, and therefore, the waiting room could be eliminated.

As I began to ponder the question during my 2 hour drive today, I began to reframe the question in my mind.

Instead of asking what is wrong with the space or how to improve the design or the need for a waiting room, I started to think about challenges patients highlight.

Topics that we discuss during the weekly chats of #HCLDR.

What if we reframe and ask ourselves the following:

How can we help patients connect with one another?

In thinking about the space above (left picture specifically), I would rearrange the furniture to be in small circles or groups versus in a line.

Perhaps instead of the local news or Ellen on the TV I would show video’s from YouTube about nutrition, or the clinicians, or an important topic that is relevant to the community of patients congregating.

Maybe I would have a social worker in the space to help facilitate sharing, asking questions, and prepping/introducing those new patients with those that are coming back for a follow up.

Maybe the space should be more about sharing our stories, our common experiences, our fears, our questions with one another and use it as a learning opportunity? Maybe this is the space where we impact health literacy. Or address access to improved nutrition. Or share resources within the community.

Perhaps the space has nothing to do with waiting, but everything with building a tribe of patients that share a common thread and can learn from one each other’s experience.

Perhaps knowing a patient like me, the one sitting next to me, helps me realize that we do things like this.

We connect. We share. We learn. We grow.

Perhaps care at the N of 1 begins by connecting patients in the waiting room?

Let’s rename it the sharing room.

As always you can feel free to email me at or follow me on Twitter @cancergeek


Why Do I Wear Red?

(photo: 2014 Nike Air Max)

During a recent Q&A session during one of my recent healthcare talks I was asked by a participant why I wear red? (I was wearing a red sport coat, red shoes, and walked in with a red backpack)

I paused, smiled, and told them why I have an affinity for all things red.

In the fall of 2013 my father was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic pancreatic cancer. One of the last items he bought for me was a pair of red Nike Air Max running shoes. He purchased them as part of my birthday present.

A few weeks later my father turned 69. A week after that my father passed. His funeral was adorned with red roses and red carnations. Both of which where his favorite flowers and color.

As my father passed I made the decision that I was not going to wear the shoes. Ever.

I was going to keep them unworn, unused, and in the box.

The shoes have become this reminder to me, of my father, his love, and my quest to make an impact in this world.

Since that time I have unconsciously (or maybe consciously) had an affinity to the color red.

My winter coat is red. My favorite sport coat is red. My backpack is red. My phone case is red. I have red chuck taylors. I have red Adidas Superstars. I have red bow ties. I have red trousers. I have red lapel pins. I even purcahsed a red fountain pen to go with my red notebook. I am addicted to Diet Coke because I prefer the red on the can. (well my father like Coke but I dont need the calories)

The simple answer is: I wear red because it reminds me of my father. It reminds me of our relationship. It reminds me of his struggles, his experiences, his sacrifices. It reminds me of his advice. It reminds me of one mans unconditional love that transcends time and space and envelops me each day.

I wear red to be close to my dad.

Care happens at the N of 1.

As always you can feel free to email me at or follow me on Twitter @cancergeek