Let’s face it — no one likes long wait times at the doctor. According to Patient Engagement Hit, about one in five patients have reportedly switched providers when faced with an excessive wait time.
Let’s face it – no one likes long wait times at the doctor. According to Patient Engagement Hit, about one in five patients have reportedly switched providers when faced with an excessive wait time. The average wait time to see a doctor in the United States about 18 minutes – so to stand out from the crowd, providers should be aiming for under that. Healthcare professionals including Audrey Mclaughlin, RN, advise that patients should wait less than 10 minutes in the waiting room and less than 20 minutes before seeing their doctor.
Achieving an acceptable wait time is entirely possible by taking a few simple measures. Here are 5 ways to cut back on wait times at your practice:
Doctors often run late for a plethora of reasons, including appointments taking longer than anticipated and overbooked calendars. Regardless of the reason, a non-punctual doctor can make patients restless and uneasy. A solution to this problem is sending “Physician Is Running Late” texts to the respective patients.
61% of patients prefer to be texted if their provider is running behind schedule. It is a quick, easy way to inform people and cut back on time spent in the waiting room. Although a phone call can sometimes do the trick, patients are sometimes more likely to read a text than answer the phone. For instance, one third of Americans prefer texts over phone calls due to its convenience and efficiency. This is a huge portion of the population that can easily be reached via text by their providers.
Try updating your patients via text the next time one of your physicians is running behind schedule.
Perhaps the most obvious method of ending long wait times at your practice is implementing wait time analysis. Wait time analysis allows patients and healthcare workers to have access to how long it takes a patient to see their provider from the moment that the patient walks in the door. For example, both patients and staff will be able to see how long a patient has been waiting since check-in thanks to lobby display boards. Providers can also have further access to patient wait times by viewing the patient’s check-in time on the patient portal.
Patient portals can help lower patient wait times by removing time it takes to manually complete and process paperwork at the office. For instance, patients can upload their insurance information, make payments, complete documents, and more to make their patient experience as smooth as possible. Allowing patients to upload their information before an appointment enables them to spend even less time at the doctor’s office.
Patients often spend up to 15 or 20 minutes filling out paperwork at the doctor’s office, which can be tedious. Going through each individual form cuts into time that could be spent with the doctor. According to MedPro Disposal, arriving at a healthcare provider’s office with all forms completed allows the patient to be ready to see their doctor right when he or she is available.
Patient portals allow for faster service where patients do not have to waste time filling out forms in the waiting room.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced healthcare organizations to reexamine the way they approach medicine and reconsider some previously accepted notions – including the idea that all patients need to come into the office for an appointment. According to the CDC, patients may be eligible for telemedicine appointments if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, have certain chronic medical conditions, need to see a primary care specialist, plus more. Telemedicine allows patients to receive the same quality care without having to leave their homes.
Telemedicine is not only incredibly convenient, but can even cut down on patient wait times. According to Forbes, patients only spend about 20 minutes with their doctor during in person visits compared to an average of 101 minutes commuting and waiting to see their provider. In contrast, telemedicine visits only take an average of 13 to 15 minutes total. These findings suggest that telemedicine appointments can be far more efficient than in-person visits thanks to all the time it saves patients from having to wait for their providers.
A great way to figure out your health system’s strengths and weaknesses is to create patient surveys. For instance, you could ask your patients approximately how long they spend waiting during each appointment, followed by how much time they spend in the waiting room versus the exam room. This can help narrow down the root cause of any potential long wait times.
86% of patients in the United States say that they would likely take a survey from their doctor. Surveys are a great way to implement patient feedback and can improve your health system in a variety of ways, including lessening patient wait times.
CERTIFY Health has many solutions to help lower patient wait times at your practice, including: