Flip No. 45

An Open Table-inspired approach to the clinic

Lessons from restaurant seating help patients feel their time is valued.

By Austin Lab Participants

Developed at Flip the Clinic Lab: Austin

Inspired by Keith Seidel’s efforts to Flip his San Francisco community health center to make it more like the Apple Store, an Austin-based group hopes to leverage restaurant-like seating technology to better usher patients into exam rooms. The first step in this approach is to get rid of the so-called waiting room. The traditional waiting room is a stressful space studded with constant coughing, anxiety, and silent scuffles for armrest space. Instead, when patients walk in the door, they would be guided to a private lounge, where they’d check in and be able to relax alone or with accompanying family members. Information tailored to the patient would be loaded onto an iPad or left in the room for the patient to peruse, if he or she were so inclined. Meanwhile, a triage nurse would keep tabs on which rooms are open and available for clinicians through an app that functions like Open Table, the restaurant reservation system that schedules tables for diners online and provides easy organization for restaurant hosts. With more advanced scheduling and better alerts to signal free exam rooms, the clinic would offer a more welcoming environment with lower stress—something closer to sitting at a bar before dinner reservations. Booze not included.