I went with my husband to the doctor today- and I was surprised that this office had a big flat screen tv turned up rather loudly.  The content certainly interfered with hearing anything going on with other patients in the office, but it also was loud enough to make reading a book difficult.  The content was not simply regular old television or cable- it was  closed-circuit cable system, from Accent Health, branded, of course, generously on its bracket on the wall.   The content was very similar to that you see before most movies these days if you arrive early- a mixture of commercials and short information/background pieces.  All the content was health related, and there were a few government health public service announcements interspersed with the heart healthy recipes,  CNN diatribes on childhood obesity, and commercials for Plavix.

Now this was a private physician’s office.  I am sure there is some deal here where the gear and equipment is provided free, saving the doctor from having to buy a cable subscription.  Maybe the doctor even is paid to place this giant ad-box in his waiting room.  I found the whole thing really annoying, distracting, and irrelevant, as most of the content had nothing to do with why we were coming to see the ENT at all.  Nor was any of the content even remotely relevant to anything at all dealing with the ears, nose and throat during our wait.

Accent health has apparently been doing this for some time, but this is the first I have seen it.  It is , of course, a “complimentary” program for physicians, and makes claims about giving the office a “high tech feel” from their research, and in its pdf, it claims to help reduce patient interruptions by helping keeping them occupied- ie.  let us place this giant pacifier in your waiting room serving up ads so you can ignore your patients.

My husband, a physician himself, said the office staff was pretty surly and unfriendly, making him much more appreciative of his staff in his office.    I think it was a great experience for my spouse to be a patient for a change, and get to see medicine and waiting rooms from the other side of the white coat.

In the end, I think we both agreed that the medical health programming was pretty bland and saccharine in general.  The non-stop, ad-heavy content was annoying.  The best thing you can do to improve your patient’s perception of your office is much more simple- hire office staff who are pleasant and who seem to care about the patients.  Don’t schedule too many patients too close together.  Make your patients feel like people, and don’t treat them like cattle.  And that’s a much better plan than any free TV networks spewing irrelevant ads 24 x 7.