Tips for preventing “delayed-schedule stew”


Delays are sometimes unavoidable, but don't allow your patients to sit and quietly (or loudly) stew over the extra time they're spending in your waiting room. Take a proactive approach using your front-office staff. While this won't solve the delay, it will reduce your patient's irritation level.

Try these five techniques to help patients gracefully endure unavoidable delays:

·       Inform upon check-in. Immediately tell arriving patients that there's a delay in the schedule.

·         Give an estimate. This reassures patients if you're running only a few minutes behind, and gives patients an opportunity to use the time productively or to reschedule.

·         Don't snap back. When a patient gets vocally irritated and takes it out on your front-office staff, train them not to respond in kind, but to calmly explain you're working to catch up without compromising care.

·         Provide work area. Consider providing a small desk with phone (and modem hook-up) for patients who want to get some work done while waiting.

·         Add nice touches. Offer something hot or cold to drink for patients enduring a delay.

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