Every healthcare provider's objective is to stay on schedule or attempt to.
However, emergencies, staffing issues, late patients, and other unanticipated events frequently derail this goal.
It's acceptable if this occurs occasionally.
However, this develops into a problem if it occurs every day.
Surprisingly, the reasons why most patients are irritated by medical professionals are often unseen.
For example, what appears to be an important aspect of our practice can actually be a time-consuming error that we repeat time and time again.
Fortunately, we can find obvious solutions to reduce patient wait times.
Medical professionals can use scheduling tools like mobile apps, task separation and delegation, and leveraging employee ideas.
These are a few ways of lowering waiting times that translates to a more satisfied and loyal patient base and a better medical practice.
Reducing Patient Waiting Time
1. Gather Patient Information Ahead Of Time
Gathering patient information at the appointment time may look like it's convenient, but it's not.
It really jams up the practice and adds to the waiting time since a lot of patients might take longer than usual to complete filling out the form.
By preparing the paperwork a day before or prior to the patient visit, the wait time is reduced, saving a lot of time.
2. Keep Check-ins separate from phone work
You can also reduce patient wait time by separating certain tasks.
One employee can make and take phone calls, manage schedules, and contact patients to gather information for upcoming visits, while the other can handle patient check-ins.
This eliminates the patient backlog caused by numerous check-ins.
3. Make Use Of Texts
A number of patients prefer texts to phone calls when it comes to reminding them of their appointments or getting patient information.
A phone call can be ignored or simply forgotten, especially if the patient is in a rush, but text messages leave written records for the patient to refer to whenever they please or act as a reminder.
Physicians can also utilize text messaging to consult with patients or vice versa prior to the physical appointment, resulting in reduced exam room banter and in turn, shorter wait times.
4. Avoid Overbooking
Long patient wait times can also be a result of a crowded schedule.
Overbooking may appear to be a smart strategy to boost profits, but in an actual sense, overbooking results in a crowded and stressful practice with a lot of disgruntled patients due to the long waiting times.
Booking a reasonable and manageable number of patients results in a smooth-running practice that's more efficient and productive and can ultimately boost the practice's growth with returning patients and more referrals.
5. Inform Patients About Any Delays
Communicating delays to patients can help cut down wait times.
If a doctor is running late, inform the patients prior to their hospital visit.
They'll be more appreciative of the heads-up and will take advantage of the extra time they have.
Making a patient wait for 2 hours and then acting like it's no big deal can lead to frustration and anger.
6. Make Use Of The Patient Portal
Having an online patient portal and advising patients to make use of it can significantly reduce wait times.
Patients can complete paperwork, enter insurance information and get updates from their homes by using mobile apps.
7. Utilize Queue apps
Patients can use queueing apps to monitor their place in line at a glance, as well as their projected wait time.
This allows patients to correctly estimate the time, giving them the freedom to leave the clinic and possibly run some errands.
This clears the waiting room, replacing it with a considerably more efficient virtual waiting room.
8. Enforce a Late Arrival Policy
Late patients do more than hurt a practice's bottom line.
They disrupt the workflow and inconvenience other patients by increasing their wait time.
Implementing a late policy that's clear and well-understood for patients to reschedule when their time has passed is important.
9. Perform An Analysis Of The Practice
You and your team members should examine the practice for unnecessary inefficiencies.
You may be unable to notice that certain seemingly vital activities are actually time-wasters during busy days.
Doing a self-analysis and checking the processes on a daily basis, and asking whether there's an alternative approach to moving things faster can lower the wait times.
10. Managed Inventory And Prioritize Maintenance
Another way to reduce patient wait times is by properly managing hospital equipment and inventory.
Regularly check what needs to be replaced and get rid of empty boxes or containers.
It's also important to have regular inspections of hospital equipment and software updates to avoid system breakdown.
11. Offer Telemedicine
Offering virtual treatment can reduce hospital visits by 50%.
Telemedicine allows doctors to manage fewer essential appointments remotely, frees up time, and reduces the number of patients in the waiting room.
12. Design Unique Patient Protocols
Create unique patient protocols by categorizing major illnesses like head injuries, chest pains, or abdominal pain.
Physician directives, nursing procedures, required lab tests, and other resources.
By doing this, the staff is then able to identify the sickness or injury the patients are seeking treatment for, follow a planned treatment course for patients that match the specific criteria, and the physician needed to manage the case.
This will save time and ultimately reduce patient waiting times.
13. Identify Slow Areas By Conducting A Survey
As one of the staff members, it may be difficult to identify the slow areas or speed bumps in the practice.
This can be solved by distributing a simple survey to measure patient wait times in the waiting area.
It is important to be empathetic towards patients by putting yourself in their shoes.
By delivering patient-friendly experiences, you will improve people's moods and increase patient loyalty.
So whatever method you use to reduce patient wait times, remember that patients expect medical institutions to deliver high-quality medical treatment in the most efficient manner.