Category Archives: #patientegagement

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



The Healthcare Lizards

Healthcare Is Full Of Lizards

You read the headline correctly.

Healthcare is full of lizards.

Not the cold blooded amphibian type that slither and scamper around the ground. I am talking about the 2 legged, warm blooded type of lizards, the humans working in the hospitals.

Bare with me for a moment.

All of us have a lizard brain. It is that evolutionary portion of the brain called the amygdala. The amygdala is responsible for the flight or fight response. The portion of the brain that focuses on eating, reproduction, and safety.

Over the past few weeks as I was traveling and talking to hospital executives, I heard a lot of discussion on how people are waiting, or needing more data, or cannot do something.

At one point I asked a Hospital CEO the following question,

“Do you want to be like everyone else, paid the same, and part of the middle or do you want to be a market leader, get preferential status, and a premium revenue stream?”

Of course the response was they want the latter of the two options.

Yet the lizard brain is preventing them, their team, and the rest of the organization to move forward due to fear. The fear of not having all the information, the fear of maybe being wrong, and the fear of doing the work and not getting the reward. The fear of doing the work, being on the hook, and stepping up to take responsibility.

The preference is to let someone else do the work.

To ride the wave, be happy with being in the middle, getting a guarantee, and feeling good about getting something rather than nothing.

Steven Pressfield (author of War of Art) calls it the “resistance.” The critic that talks in our ear and tells us to stop. To stop short before doing something extraordinary, and just be satisfied with being extra ordinary.

Healthcare is full of lizards. Healthcare is full of mediocrity.

Remember it is a choice.

A choice at the N of 1.

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