7 Ways to Decrease Patient Wait Times

Wait times are a small part of each patient’s overall experience but can be a significant concern the longer they last.

Eliminating wait times entirely is unlikely, 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 daily workflow and can create extra waiting time. Some patients take longer to complete required forms and often do not come prepared with all the information needed to answer all questions.

Ensure all necessary forms are completed and gathered before the appointment to avoid 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.

[Don’t have a patient portal or a quality website? Click here to find out why it’s a must!] 

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 help in reducing the number of no-shows.

Use a patient check-in queue app.

We are now a very 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.

Now’s the time to solidify a policy for dealing with no-shows or patients who arrive late. Patients who don’t show up on time (or at all) not only disrupt the schedule but can affect revenue.

If you do not have a policy against late arrivals and missed appointments already in place, now is the time to implement one. Charge a fee to repeat offenders as motivation to arrive on time. Ensure these policies are consistent and that patients are fully aware.

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 long waits.

In addition, patient surveys can be great motivators. Knowing that patients are going to evaluate their visit can be positive for staff. This can lead to simple improvements like more personal engagement, extra smiles, or better eye contact.

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 before arrival.

Provide a comfortable reception area.

Wait times are inevitable, but you can make it easier on patients by providing them with a comfortable waiting area.

Some things you can do to make their wait times more comfortable include:

  • Ensure there is plenty of space
  • Provide comfortable seating
  • Offer free Wi-Fi
  • Consider a complimentary coffee and tea bar
  • Add welcoming and calming decor

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, patients, and bottom line happy.

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