The pandemic has accelerated the growing notion of healthcare consumerism and spurred several changes in the healthcare industry. These changes contain rationalising business processes and focusing on improvements that positively impact patient wait times and appointment times.
Longer patient wait times are well known to negatively impact patient satisfaction, particularly in terms of patient trust (in providers) and perceived quality of care.
To further complicate affairs, healthcare consumers continue to prioritise the patient experience. Physicians are leaving private practices for hospitals and larger medical groups at a frightening rate. While this shift provides solidity for doctors, many patients leave time in larger, busier reception areas or seek alternatives.
Tips For Managing Patient Wait Times
Implement a Mobile Queue:
Offering patients the ability to check in for an appointment using a mobile queue can improve the patient experience by estimating wait times and notifying them when it’s their turn. Communication can lessen patient wait time vexation, especially when patients know they have time to grasp a cup of coffee or take a walk before their appointment rather than sitting in the waiting room.
Inject Slack in the Schedule:
A busy schedule is a recipe for long patient waits times. Overbooking may seem like a good way to boost profits. But it creates an overly busy and stressed practice with lots of waiting and angry patients. Small, built-in blocks of cushion time rarely go to waste, generating a more efficient, smooth-running practice with ultimately higher returns.
Adopt a Patient Portal:
Patient portals are an increasingly popular way to bring much of the data collection process online. Portals are safe online websites that provide patients with convenient 24-hour access to personal health information. An unlearned portal can save healthcare staff time by allowing patients to view educational materials. Schedule non-urgent appointments and upgrade their medical history online.
Allow Patients to Book Appointments Remotely:
A simple patient booking portal or queuing app can save a lot of time throughout the day and significantly reduce patient waiting times.
Collect patient information in advance with a patient portal that includes a Medical EMR (Electronic Medical Records) system. And permits patients to fill out their personal information, send updates, easily make or change appointments, and automatically join a queue. Patients will not have to manually fill out a form at the counter, reducing waiting time to see a doctor. It will only create a virtuous cycle of minimal check-in delays and fast service throughout the chain.
Offer Virtual Care:
Many healthcare facilities have introduced virtual health services such as telehealth during the pandemic. The choice of virtual or remote visits for pattern care or follow-ups can streamline a medical practice by shortening appointment times, streamlining documentation, and lessening no-shows and late arrivals. The use of telehealth means virtually eliminating patient waiting time without reducing the quality of care.
The adoption of telehealth and virtual treatment technology reduces average wait times and late arrivals. As patients do not have to deal with travel-related difficulties and do not have to spend hours in the waiting room. In addition, telehealth technology can also reduce patient no-shows with smart appointment reminders. And can improve your clinic’s efficiency by reducing paperwork and automating administrative tasks.
Stake to a Policy for No-Shows and Late Arrivals:
Now is the time to harden a procedure for dealing with patients who are no-shows or late for appointments. Set a policy to reschedule after the maximum late arrival time and consider late fees for repeated cancellations or no-shows. Spotting and communicating these policies can assist show patients that you value their time as much as they do.
Use Secure Messaging:
Most advanced care delivery platforms and EHR systems have secure messaging elements that provide an alternative way to communicate important information to your patients. While you may think of safe messaging as just another thing to manage. It can increase office efficiency and improve patient satisfaction. As a bonus, your patients will love having better access to their doctor.
Consider Supply and Demand:
While it’s not possible to control the number of patient-initiated appointments or appointments a patient requests. Doctors can control internal demand and schedule follow-up appointments for less busy times of the day, according to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. Additionally, in a multi-provider practice, multiple physicians may work at busier times of the day to facilitate patient visits.
Implement a Pull System:
Pull systems are a very effective way to do this. Imagine you have two plastic bins of gauze in your supply closet. When one is empty, it is placed upside down as a signal to order another. Extend across every item in the practice, this decimates time spent on inventory and ordering. And speeds up the entire practice, including the patient experience.
Make Waiting More Pleasant:
Span on-time appointments are a priority, and it may be impossible to remove all patient waits. By making the waiting room more pleasant, you can reduce frustration and improve the patient experience. Provide patients with secure Wi-Fi, comfortable seating, and up-to-date reading and educational materials to make the time go by faster.
Organising patient satisfaction is critical to maintaining patient volume in your medical practice. Losing patients due to long wait times will negatively affect your bottom line and your reputation. When you lessen patient wait times and improve the patient experience, you boost stronger doctor-patient relationships, increase revenue, and reduce costs.
Wait times can make even your most loyal patients want to switch to another healthcare provider. However, there are various tips and tools available to you to reduce patient wait times.
Adopting advanced clinical software that automates day-to-day operations, patient health records, payments, etc… And offers a secure patient portal and video conferencing tools can improve patient satisfaction and meet increased appointment demand.
Whether we like it or not, patient satisfaction is an important benchmark for both doctors and healthcare facilities. One surefire way to increase patient satisfaction is to reduce patient wait times. Fortunately, various actions can be taken to do this. Many of these actions just require some planning, effective delegation of responsibilities, better communication, and foresight.