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5 Tips for Reducing Patient Wait Time


Are you struggling to get patients into exam rooms on time? Do you find yourself twiddling thumbs waiting for patients to arrive, only to miss your lunch or leave late when the schedule gets backed-up? We have a few simple ways that’ll help you stay on schedule and teach you how to reduce patient wait times for healthcare.

Patient wait times may seem like a small part of the patient experience, but they can have a powerful effect on overall patient 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.

What to do, what to do? Here 8 tips we found to reduce wait times while ramping up your practice’s productivity.

See the infographic: How to Reduce Patient Wait Times

1. Gather patient information before their scheduled appointment.

This tip may seem like a no-brainer, but there’s always room for improvement. Does your office staff gather insurance information and patient history when they schedule an appointment? Are referrals and patient records always ready and waiting in-office when the patient arrives? Are patients asked to complete and/or send in all necessary forms before their appointment? All of this data and paperwork collection takes time. Allowing patients to fill out any forms on their own time and having all their paperwork ready before the appointment prevents delays at check-in.

2. Use secure messaging.

Most modern care delivery platforms and EHR systems have secure messaging features that provide an alternative way to communicate important information to your patients. While you may think of secure messaging as “just another thing to manage,” it can actually increase office efficiency and raise patient satisfaction. Dr. Rachel Franklin describes here how secure messaging decreased the number of phone calls her practice received, eliminated “phone tag” or problems with reaching patients at a callback number, and allowed physicians and staff to respond quickly to patient queries. As an added bonus, your patients will love the increased access to their doctor.

3. Embrace telehealth solutions.

Today’s virtual care delivery platforms can streamline patient records gathering, prevent no-shows or late arrivals, and cut the average office visit time in half. Plus, virtual treatment options provide convenient in-home physician access to your patients, effectively eliminating time spent traveling to the office or sitting in the waiting room. Telehealth solutions may be the path to a no-wait future care model.

4. Design a survey to 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. How long are they spending waiting in the reception area or exam room? How long is their visit with the doctor? Remember to use this survey across different days and weeks to get an accurate picture of where the consistent problems are. This method also shows your patients that you value their time.

5. 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. Before they come into a care facility, patients can join a virtual waiting line that updates them on their “position” and enables them to grab lunch, or relax at a nearby coffee shop while they wait. Keeping in constant communication with your patients gives them greater control over their time and helps you manage patient flow.

Learn more. 

Check out this infographic for these and 3 more tips for reducing wait times.

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