Waiting Rooms Were Replaced with Patients Waiting in Their Cars

Elderly lady sitting in her car outside her doctor's office appointment
Artwork by Anthony Faust
Elderly lady sitting in her car outside her doctor's office appointment

The pandemic forced a drastic change in the traditional model of care delivery, especially regarding waiting rooms. To minimize patient contact and reduce the risk of viral transmission, dentists, clinics, and hospitals needed to avoid filling waiting rooms with patients.

The waiting room was typically the holding area for patients until they are ready to be seen. To keep their patients and their staff safe, these places started requesting that people stay in their own waiting rooms—their cars.

By being physically close to the facility but with a physical barrier around us, cars acted as virtual waiting rooms. An automated text message was sent the day before the appointment, instructing the patient to text back "READY" once they arrived and were parked. Sometimes a staff member would come out to check them in with a temperature reading and screening questions right at their car.

Other times, the patient was instructed to just remain in their car upon arrival. The system updated the patient status and sent text updates to notify them to when the doctor was ready to see them. It helped to keep the time lingering around the facility down to a minimum.

This simple and fully automated virtual waiting room solution was brilliant. They used familiar communication technology without the need for a patient portal or app. It also required minimal integration and could be launched quickly, making hospitals and clinics safer during the pandemic. It reduced the risk of viral transmission and freed up the staff from having to constantly maintain sanitization efforts within the building.

The only drawback was that patients could no longer pick up an old crusty Sports Illustrated magazine and read all about who won the 2003 Stanley Cup or pretend to read a magazine while peeping around at the other patients wondering, “I wonder what he’s got…it can’t be good.”

41% of patients reported delaying care during the pandemic, due in part to a perceived additional risk factor on virus transmission. The waiting room on wheels helped to keep everyone safer.

"This book will make you laugh and feel ALL the feelings."

Five star rating

"One of the most delightful reads of this year! I highly recommend."

Five star rating

"A great coffee table book. Easy to pick up read."

Five star rating

"Great coffee table conversation starter."

Five star rating

"Funny and fun to read. What a fun way to put the pandemic in perspective."

Five star rating

Picture of author Anthony Faust

About the Author

My life as a husband and father transformed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sent home from work in March 2020, I've yet to return to the office. Adapting to the new pandemic world proved challenging for us all.

However, we managed to find silver linings. Drive-by birthdays brought joy to my kids' friends. I'll never forget stumbling upon a heartfelt hand-painted rock during my jog, reminding us that we're all in this together. Regular Zoom happy hours with close friends created cherished memories.

While quality time with my family was a blessing, we also faced hurdles. Assisting my youngest daughter with frustrating math homework on a poorly designed iPad app tested our patience. Both girls struggled with wearing masks during sports and school.

Sadly, witnessing COVID-19 being politicized and witnessing the closure of small businesses while the wealthy thrived was disheartening.

I wrote this book to document our experiences, learning from them and striving for better decisions in the future. Join me on this rewarding journey of resilience and growth.

Tony signature