14 Ways to Reduce Long Patient Wait Times

After a pandemic, when everything is open, in any clinic, there is long queue everywhere, in this article, we are going to learn, many ways to Reduce Long Patient Wait Times. The pandemic fast-tracked the growing concept of healthcare consumerism, spurring several changes in the healthcare industry. These differences include modernizing business processes and focusing on improvements that positively affect patient wait times and appointment times. 

It is well-established that longer patient wait times negatively affect patient satisfaction, especially regarding patient confidence (in the provider) and perceived quality of care.

To further complicate issues, as healthcare consumers continue to prioritize patient knowledge, physicians are leaving private procedures for hospitals and larger medical groups at an alarming rate. According to Avalere Health, nearly three in four doctors function for a hospital, health system, or corporate entity today. In other words, only 26.1% of physicians stay in private practice.

While this shift delivers stability for physicians, it’s left many patients biding their period in larger, busier reception areas or looking for alternatives. (Note: please don’t call your reception room a “waiting room.” Can you think of any other ambition besides healthcare that does that?)

What changes has your business implemented to complete your healthcare consumers’ changing demands and expectations—and are they enough?

Attitudes toward patient wait times have changed

If you’re not modernizing your business to meet today’s healthcare customers’ changing requirements and expectations, you’re already losing earnings.

Consumerism has turned the healthcare paradigm from provider-driven to patient-driven healthcare decisions and patient experience. As a consequence of these changes, more patients desire seamless digital interactions and a healthcare experience as innovative and progressive as other service sectors.

This retail mindset means patients aren’t ready to put up with inefficiencies like long patient wait times at the doctor’s office. Rather, they expect to wait 30 minutes or less for scheduled appointments, 45 minutes or less for unexpected visits, and 20 minutes or less for virtual care. (And, I suppose like those figures are generous.)

Reasons for shifting patient attitudes

As we all know, healthcare customers have never enjoyed long patient wait times in the office, but they accepted it because there weren’t many options. While some offices prioritize patient understanding, many hospitals and larger medical groups stumble with long wait times and delayed appointments.

With recent improvements in technology and an explosion of non-urgent care opportunities (e.g., telemedicine, minute clinics, and other walk-in services), healthcare customers are more empowered than ever before to find healthcare organizations that meet (or exceed) their anticipations—and to assist prevent others from making the same mistake. 

Patient reviews have a greater reach than ever before

More customers are reading online reviews than ever before. Reputation, the international leader in Reputation Experience Management (RXM), analyzed more than 1,000 U.S. customers and discovered that over 70% read patient reviews when researching possible new healthcare locations or providers. 

What’s more, female consumers are actually more interested in customer feedback, with almost 80% of women saying they read patient reviews before viewing a new doctor.

But that’s not all. Today’s healthcare customers weigh the general sentiment of online reviews against the volume each organization has. 80% of survey respondents need five or more positive reviews before deeming a provider trustworthy.

It’s significant to note that these reviews aren’t limited to primary care physicians. Patients who receive a referral from another doctor are just as possible to conduct their own online research, and if they don’t want what they see, they may seek out a second option.

Your competition is disrupting the marketplace

Favorably recognizable brand names like CVS MinuteClinics, Walmart Care Clinics, Target Clinics, Walgreens Healthcare Clinics, and new businesses like Optum Health, Luna Physical Therapy, Roman, and HIMS are disrupting the status quo. These, in addition to innovative outpatient benefits (e.g., urgent care centers and Telehealth), are giving healthcare customers what they want—often before they actually know they want it. 

According to survey data freed from Press Ganey, a healthcare experience leader, 66% of 1,000 respondents thought brands like these might pose a substantial threat to older hospitals and provider institutions that aren’t modernizing their businesses.

If you want to support patients in your hospital or medical group, you have to create an experience of care that supports them in coming back and being competitive with these modern healthcare environments.

Losing a patient is expensive

According to Vitals, 30% of patients have just left a doctor’s office because they were disappointed with the wait time. In some cases, the cost of obtaining a new patient can be a couple of hundred dollars. Worse, the possible cost of the lifetime economic value of the patient to your business will almost consistently be far greater.

What can you do to decrease patient wait times and retain (or improve) patient volumes across your organization?

If you haven’t accomplished so already, I highly suggest conducting a thorough audit of your systems and processes. Specify how to leverage existing and emerging technologies to make on-time appointments a priority. Build your operations around patients (not the other way around), streamline appointment workflows, and assure everyone is in and out in as little time as potential. 

14 Ways to Reduce Patient Wait Times

Here are the 14 ways to reduce long patient wait times, sweeten patient satisfaction, enhance the patient experience, and reduce revenue loss.

1. Offer digital check-in services that permit patients to submit medical forms before their appointment.

2. Present hassle-free online appointment scheduling and rescheduling.

3. Integrate virtual care assistance like telehealth/telemedicine.

4. Stay on the program by leveraging physician assistants (PAs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) for routine or non-urgent holidays.

5. Design better new patient lead workflows to enhance efficiencies and productivity.

6. Complete patient surveys.

7. Send patient appointment reminders to decrease your risk of no-shows (which can hold everyone waiting unnecessarily).

8. Create and publish a policy for cancellations, no-shows, and late arrivals.

a. For instance, this policy may draft fees for same-day appointment cancellations,  no-shows, late arrivals, and late-notice rescheduling.

9. Optimize access management approaches to automate appointment re-filling. 

a. For instance, if you have a cancellation or reschedule, contact patients scheduled for a later date and deliver them an earlier appointment. This holds your queue filled, reduces revenue loss, and provides earlier appointments for other patients.

10. Identify and resolve bottlenecks fast.

11. Streamline internal procedures and communications.

12. Use a mobile or virtual queue to support patients out of the reception area.

13. Deliver a warm, welcoming space for waiting. While you can’t eradicate patient wait times completely, you can make the experience as comfortable as feasible. Consider showing complimentary and secured wi-fi services, educational materials (either printed or onscreen), and plenty of comfortable seating. You may also consider moving patients from the reception area into public exam rooms as soon as they become available to indicate forward momentum.

14. And most significantly, listen to your patients and their conditions. Actually, if you fall behind in your schedule, your patients will enjoy transparency and your willingness to fix the issues over time. And if you really want to hold your organization accountable for holds, present patients a gift card to nearby coffee or pastry shops as a way of saying thanks for their patience.

Reducing patient wait times is a gateway to enhancing patient satisfaction across your entire organization, which in turn helps patient retention, increased patient volume, and revenue over time.

The post 14 Ways to Reduce Long Patient Wait Times can help to manage your organization better.

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