According to the American Medical Association, patients spend an average of 19 minutes waiting for their appointments. For a lot of physician practices (like my own internist!), the wait is actually longer. As we all know, waiting time is one of the most critical patient satisfaction issues there is. So here are a few simple ideas to consider:
– Have a new patient fill out and send you their new patient information form "before" they come in to the office. Post the form to your website and have the patient download it, fill it out, and fax it to your office so that their demographic information can be inputted in to the computer before their appointment, thus reducing any bottlenecks related to front desk registration.
– Track your office’s current patient waiting times. Believe it or not, most practices don’t do this. Tracking the actual patient wait times for your office will allow you to sit down with your staff to identify the "why’s" related to a high waiting time average.
– Make sure there are enough personnel at the front desk to handle a heavy patient load. Bottlenecks can occur during check in, check out, and answering the constant ringing of the telephone.
– Make sure patients stick to their assigned appointment time. Believe it or not, there are some offices out there that allow patients to come in any time they want "before" their assigned appointment time.