Time spent in the waiting room seems like such a small fraction of the patient experience, and if you are like most medical practices, you do what you can to make it a pleasant experience. You have magazines, attractive décor, and the radio or TV playing for distraction. Even if the wait times run a little long, it can’t have too much of an impact.
Well, we have bad news. Nearly all patients report being frustrated with how long they need to wait at medical offices and hospitals. Feeling like your time has been wasted in a waiting room is essentially a universal experience.
The good news is that there are ways to decrease patient wait times and increase patient satisfaction. Here are our top suggestions.
1. Focus on Customer Relationship Management
CRM in healthcare manages all interactions between you and your patients, facilitating ease of communication and keeping all essential elements organized. The patient end of this is your online patient portal. Through this, you can have patients upload documents, fill out a health history and HIPAA forms, and even give a brief write-up of the current condition they are seeking treatment for. This helps eliminate time spent sitting in the waiting room filling out paperwork and allows your patient to arrive right on time rather than 15 minutes early.
2. Use Digital Queuing
Restaurants already have this one down pat. People hate just waiting in line, so instead, enter their information into an automated system and when it’s five minutes before you can see them, they get a message to head on in. This lets them wait in their cars where they might feel more comfortable or enjoy a latte at the café next door.
3. Be Firm in Your Late Arrivals Policy
An excellent way to reduce patient waiting time is by not tolerating late arrivals. While we all know that sometimes, life happens and being late is unavoidable, your other patients shouldn’t have to suffer because of someone’s bad luck or poor planning. Set your policy on how late a patient can arrive and still be seen, and be firm in enforcing it.
4. Set Up Express Care
Express care will require another care provider, such as a registered nurse, to be available for walk-ins and short-notice bookings. These appointments should be restricted to simple conditions, such as common colds, splinter removal, and even stitches, depending upon the situation. This way, they do not disrupt the overall flow of the practice.
Reducing practice and hospital wait times is possible with the correct approach. Focus on patient engagement solutions, firm policies, and medical technology that can help with time management.