Hands up – who loves to wait? With patients who are waiting to get a diagnosis or test results, the waiting room of a doctor’s office can be full of tension. It’s probably not the place where you want to spend your afternoon. As an office administrator, it’s your role to help patients feel comfortable, and one way you can do this is to make wait time less frustrating for patients.
Create a Pleasant Environment
If you have to wait, it’s better to do so in a pleasant environment. While many offices offer magazines to read, you can go beyond this idea to create an enjoyable office experience. Adding diverse reading material for children and adults and other forms of entertainment like a children’s play area and a television can help keep peoples’ minds engaged as they wait. Provide free Wifi to allow patients to use their mobile devices. Consider adding snacks such as coffee, water, and fruit to help your patients know that you care about their well being.
Creating multiple waiting areas can also help patients feel that the line is moving. Moving patients into private exam rooms when it’s almost time for the appointment lets them know that they’re next in line.
Make Wait Times Useful
Wait time can feel like wasted time. Give patients something to do as they wait. Office staff can use this opportunity to update a patient’s address and medications or adjust insurance information. A thorough check in process that allows office staff to pass on information to medical staff can help expedite a patient’s appointment, making it more satisfying for the patient and reducing wait times for those who are still in the waiting room. Medical office software can help by prompting office staff to ask a series of questions to incoming patients and by highlighting areas that may be out of date.
Minimize Wait Times
However pleasant, a doctor’s office is not where most people want to be.
The best way to reduce wait time frustration is to minimize the wait itself. This is where good office practices can really help. Certain times of the day may be heavily booked, while others may have gaps due to cancellations. Practice management software can smooth the office workflow, prompting office staff to fill cancelled appointments and ensuring that each type of appointment has the appropriate amount of time allotted to it. Certain people, such as new patients or those with complex health issues may require additional time, and planning ahead gives you a buffer in the schedule.
While managing a practice with many doctors can be challenging, it also presents opportunities to reduce wait times. Waits can increase when a doctor returns from vacation, and software programs can help you manage these post-vacation times by focusing on urgent appointments only for the week after a physician returns or directing people to another physician during that vacation time. If you’re in a practice with multiple physicians, software can also help you slot patients into gaps in another doctor’s schedule when the patient’s priority is urgent care. In a practice with many doctors, it’s also possible to stagger their lunch breaks, providing consistent coverage over a time of day when many people want to schedule appointments. These small changes help ensure that there is a consistent flow of patients without a large backlog at any particular point in the day.
If you’re thinking about creating a more efficient workflow in your medical practice, practice management software can help. Try out PracticeSuite’s free version to see how office software can improve your workflow and minimize patient wait times.
Last Updated on December 31, 2014