7 Ways to Decrease Patient Wait Times

Wait times are a small part of each patient’s overall experience, but can be a huge concern the longer they last. Eliminating wait times completely is an unfortunate impossibility, but luckily there are effective strategies for reducing them. Here are seven ways to help decrease patient wait times, without compromising the quality of care.

Gather patient information in advance.

Collecting patient information at the time of visit impedes the daily work flow and can create extra waiting time. Some patients take longer to complete required forms and often times do not come prepared with all of the information needed to answer all questions. Ensure all necessary forms are completed and gathered before the appointment to avoid any potential delays upon check-in. Implement a patient portal on your website so that patients can have easy access to all documents and can submit insurance information from the comfort of their own homes.

Use secure messaging.

The personal touch can be lost with secure messaging, but most of today’s tech savvy patients actually prefer it. Text reminders cut down on wait times by decreasing the amount of time your staff spends on the phone and helps in reducing the number of no-shows.

Use a patient check in queue app.

We are now a technological world; use it to your advantage! Use a queue app that allows patients to check in online. They can monitor expected wait times and their place in line without even setting foot in the office.

Enforce late arrival and no-show policies.

Patients who don’t show up on time (or at all) not only disturb the schedule, but can affect your bottom line. If you do not have a policy against late arrivals and ignored appointments already in place, now is the time to implement one. Charge a late fee to repeat offenders as motivation to arrive on time. Ensure these policies are consistent and that patients are aware of them.

Utilize patient surveys.

Sometimes it’s easier to see issues within your practice through someone else’s perspective. Utilize a patient survey system to help track patient wait times and any problems that may arise from longer waits.

Communicate with your patients.

If your office is experiencing particularly long delays, reach out to your patients and let them know. They’ll appreciate the warning and that the issue is being addressed prior to arrival.

Provide a comfortable reception area.

Wait times are inevitable, but you can make it a lot easier on patients by providing them with a comfortable waiting area. Ensure there is plenty of space, comfortable seating, free Wi-Fi and maybe even a complimentary coffee bar.

As demand at your practice increases, so does the potential for longer wait times. While eliminating wait times altogether is an unrealistic goal, reducing their average duration is not. Long wait times can lead to unhappy patients, a stressed staff and a loss of revenue. Use these seven tips to keep your team, your patients and your bottom line happy.


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