Managing Patient Waiting Time Q&A

Q&A: Managing Patient Waiting Time

Q: Does creative scheduling tend to make a difference and if so what should we do?

“Extend your hours as appropriate and try to comply with both individual and collective employer scheduling needs.”

“Measure how long it takes staff to perform certain procedures be creative in how you schedule your physicians and support staff.”

Q: When there appears to be a long wait, what should we tell a patient who has just arrived?

“Two pet peeves of employers are long wait times and lack of effective communication. Try to deal with both proactively but recognize you aren’t always going to be perfect.”

Q: What is the best way to assess if patients are satisfied with their waiting time?

“Ask them to rate their degree of satisfaction on a scale of one to five. This allows you to quantify satisfaction and measure progress or lack thereof over time.”

Q: What can we ask clinical staff to do to ease waiting times moving forward?

“At times I ask them to postpone or expedite lunch, and we cross-train as many staff as possible.”

“Consider a care-mapping study. Ask clinical staff what processes can be improved to facilitate a better flow.”

Q: What is considered an acceptable waiting time?

“There is one set of wait times for injury care and another for screenings. Assume about ten minutes of wait time for a basic exam and no wait time for drug screens.”

“Wait time is in the eye of the beholder. Know your market.”

Q: How do we learn from a bad experience?

“Be careful not to trade one problem for another. You can’t blitz through patients to get back on schedule or else you have a double whammy  the patient is not happy they had to wait, and they’re not happy the provider rushed through the encounter when they were finally seen.”

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