7 Ways to Put Patients at Ease in Non-Acute Facilities

March 14, 2022

Physicians and their staff can provide better experiences by putting patients at ease during their visits. In some cases, accurate medical test results may depend on patients being perfectly still and relaxed. For example, being in a confined space for an MRI can cause feelings of claustrophobia, but patients should not move.

Anxiety at the doctor’s office can also affect a person’s vital signs, like increasing their blood pressure. Facilities can take steps to help patients relax and even provide a spa-like treatment to ensure a pleasant experience. The right approach can put patients at ease, whether they’re at the facility for a routine exam or a specific procedure.


There are ways to reduce patient anxiety. While every patient is different and what works for one may not be ideal for another, these seven approaches can help put them at ease:

1. Play soothing music in exam rooms and the lobby. Soft background music can have a soothing effect. Dentist offices seem to know this. The American Dental Association recommends that patients listen to music in the dentist office to relax and distract from procedures. Non-acute providers can take the same approach.

Some providers allow and even encourage patients to wear headphones and pick their own music, like when getting an MRI. Other facilities play their own music or use a music subscription service. Research supports the notion of music-induced relaxation. One study found that playing music significantly decreases patient anxiety.

2. Provide a warm blanket. Receiving general anesthesia in a facility like an ambulatory surgery center (ASC) can cause patients’ body temperature to drop, leaving patients shivering. A warm blanket is essential for procedures requiring anesthesia to prevent hypothermia and to keep a warm body temperature during surgery.

A blanket also provides psychological benefits. “A warm blanket reduces the patient’s shivering and replaces it with a larger sense of comfort and protection,” according to a blog on Future Health Concepts. “Along with the physical feeling of calm, it is also reassuring to the patient that the nurses and doctors genuinely care about their wellbeing.” Facilities can use a commercial blanket warmer for this.


3. Use aromatherapy. Some studies have suggested that aromatherapy can have health benefits, such as relief from anxiety, which can help with patients in a clinic. The aromas, which can mask the off-putting “doctors’ office smell” caused by the cleaning disinfectants, may help patients feel better by easing nausea, soothing muscles or encouraging relaxation.

“Researchers looking at aromatherapy as a way to help with pain after surgery have found that those who try it not only have better pain management, but also report higher overall satisfaction with their care,” according to “Women in labor have also reported positive results using scents such as rose, lavender and frankincense. In one study, these scents seemed to help ease anxiety and fear, and reduce the need for pain medications.”

4. Ensure good communications. Listening to patient concerns and answering their questions should be table stakes for physicians. Doctors and their staff can further put patients at ease by taking the time to explain procedures and walking patients through what to expect during their visit, or share a link to where the information can be found on the clinic’s website.
As part of good communications, healthcare providers should make eye contact with patients and say their name. This helps put patients at ease. Expressing concern about patients’ health by inviting them to list or verbally share their symptoms shows that the clinic values patients and helps relieve their stress.

5. Allow patients to bring a support person. Patients oftentimes feel more comfortable when they can bring a friend or family member to appointments. Talking with a support person at the clinic can give patients peace of mind. COVID-19 protocols have restricted appointments to patients only at some providers, so facilities need to communicate their policies and any exceptions.
A friend or family member, when allowed, can ask questions and gather information. This helps patients adhere to their prescriptions or healthcare schedule, and have an advocate for their care.

6. Deliver a friendly, streamlined check-in experience. Long wait times to see a specialist are patients’ top compliant, according to MedPB. “Make sure you have solid scheduling guidelines in place to avoid overbooking providers,” the site recommends. “If things are running behind, call the patient to let them know so they can come in a few minutes later or at least be prepared for the wait.”

Requiring patients to wait a long time for their appointment can increase anxiety and frustration. A quick check-in process and providers that run on-schedule demonstrate an interest in providing a superior patient experience.  

7. Consider a virtual reality approach. A virtual reality (VR) headset can help patients relax and stay calm before and during treatments. VR is a simulated 3D experience that looks real. Hospitals, dental offices and even airlines use VR to calm nervous patients or customers. 

The imagery and accompanying audio can help patients feel calmer in non-acute settings, too. VR devices deliver immersive experiences that transport patients away from their room in a clinic to a different place or environment.


A clinic’s best efforts to improve patients’ comfort level will not work for everyone, but they will benefit most patients. Enhanced experiences can result in patient loyalty and a better perception of the facility, which in turn can result in strong online physician reviews and ratings.
Reducing patient stress can also lead to more accurate test results. This allows doctors to give a more precise diagnosis that can lead to better health outcomes.

“A quick check-in process and providers that run on-schedule demonstrate an interest in providing a superior patient experience.  ”

Ready to Get Started?

Take the next step to start saving.

Become a Member