How Baylor eased family anxiety in the waiting room

Monica Kahn, Nursing Executive Center

Nurse leaders often struggle to strike the right balance between productivity and patient-centeredness when designing care processes. Protocols often reflect caregiver workflows, which can have a negative impact on the patient experience, such as conducting blood draws at 5 a.m. 

When it comes to designing care protocols that effectively walk this line, hospital leaders must overcome five common barriers:

  • Minimize avoidable patient disruptions
  • Clarify next steps for patients and families
  • Surface and address real-time patient needs
  • Translate clinical information into patient-friendly terms
  • Enfranchise patients and families in care processes

In this article, we address the second barrier listed and share how one Dallas hospital used waiting room care cards to minimize the anxiety patients and families feel when waiting for a procedure.

Clarify next steps for patients and families

Minimizing family anxiety with waiting room care cards

One of the most frequently overlooked disruptions is family anxiety caused by simply not knowing what to expect while in the hospital.


Baylor Jack and Jane Hamilton Heart and Vascular Hospital in Dallas implemented a simple, low-cost way to alleviate families’ anxiety about wait times during procedures.

Family members in waiting rooms receive a single-page card outlining the approximate duration of each commonly-performed procedure, including when they should expect to be contacted by a staff member regarding their loved one’s condition, and who to contact if the expected amount of time has passed.

Nursing staff developed the cards to answer the questions they most commonly received from family members.

The cards have proven helpful in improving the patient and family experience. More than half of family respondents in a recent survey conducted at Baylor Hospital "agree" or "strongly agree" the Waiting Room Care Card reduced their anxiety.

Create your own care card

Beyond waiting room care cards

Of course, Waiting Room Care Cards are only one approach for minimizing family anxiety. Other hospitals have found success with providing activities to patients and families awaiting a procedure—anything from handing out puzzles to encouraging family members to fill out Patient Personalization Posters to help caregivers get to know their loved ones.

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Enhancing the Patient Experience