AquinaMarch 5, 2019

8 Highly Effective Ways to Reduce Patient Wait Times

8 Highly Effective Ways to Reduce Patient Wait Times

Meeting with a doctor, for most people, is probably not high on the list of things to do. Being anxious about the doctor visit, coupled with the high cost of most visits and procedures, can make it nerve-wracking enough. Add to this equation a seemingly long wait time to see the doctor and your patient’s anxiety levels can increase exponentially. Worst of all, this can ultimately lead to negative patient experience.

In fact, a report by Vitals showed that 84% of people believe wait time is either “somewhat important” or “very important” to the overall patient experience at a doctor’s office.

It goes on to explain that 30 percent of people reported they’ve walked out of an appointment due to long waits, and 1 in 5 have actually changed doctors dues of long wait times.

Interestingly, based on their research, the report also mentions the average wait times the highest doctor rating on Vitals, had a 13-minute, 17-second wait on average. In contrast, doctors with a 1-star, the lowest rating, had a wait time average of 34-minutes, 11-second wait.

Ways to reduce patient wait time

Though patient wait times may seem like a small part of the overall patient experience, it can have an interesting effect on your patient’s satisfaction. A Software Advice survey of over 5,000 patients found a staggering 97% of respondents were frustrated by wait times at the doctor’s office.  Virtually every patient has experience wasting time away in a medical office.

Some key findings include:

  • 80 percent of patients would be less frustrated if they knew how long the wait would be.
  • A personal apology from the doctor would minimize frustration for 70 percent of patients.
  • 41 percent of patients would be willing to see another doctor in the practice to reduce their waiting time.

A recent article from eVisit provides some helpful techniques to avoid frustration and minimize your risk of losing dissatisfied patients your medical practice can implement:

  1. Collect patient information before their scheduled appointment
    Data and paperwork collection take time. To minimize this, have your office staff gather insurance information and patient history when an appointment is scheduled. Ask patients to complete and/or send in all necessary forms before their appointment.
  2. Utilize your EHR system
    Implement a team care model where a clinical assistant takes on some additional documentation tasks like collecting patient history, managing prescription and test orders, and even taking notes during the doctor-patient visit to easily add to your EHR.
  3. Use secure messaging
    Use an EHR system to provide an alternative way to communicate important information to your patients.
  4. Create a policy for no-shows and late arrivals
    If you haven’t already decided on a policy for dealing with patients who don’t show up or arrive late for their appointments, now’s the time. Set a time limit for late arrivals
  5. Identify bottlenecks
    Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where your daily schedule is running off course. Try handing out a simple survey that tracks each patient’s timeline from arrival to exit.
  6. Implement a mobile queue solution
    Mobile queue tools are a great way to keep wait times down and patients happy. Applications like Qless give projected wait times and allow patients to let your staff know if they’re running behind.
  7. Embrace telehealth solutions
    A telehealth solution like eVisit can streamline patient records gathering, prevent no-shows or late arrivals, and cut the average office visit time in half.
  8. Provide a comfortable reception area
    Make sure your waiting room provides a pleasant space for your patients. Stocking it with magazines and comfy seating, providing complimentary coffee and tea, and offering free wifi or TV entertainment can go a long way in optimizing patient satisfaction even when the wait time isn’t ideal.

Remember, visiting a doctor is not an experience most people enjoy. In order to stay competitive and retain your current patients, be sure to address any concerns they may have while waiting to see their doctor. Everyone is aware that appointments can run late. To alleviate any misgivings, consider implementing a few of the suggested practices.