Reducing Patients’ Wait Time
Just like the Chief of pediatric orthopedic surgery at the Children’s Hospital of Western Ontario, Dr. Kelley Leitch feels about the lengthy patients’ wait time, so do other hospital heads complain. Most health facilities are struggling with patients wait time. Some are finding it difficult to get health seekers into examination rooms in time. Studies conducted around patient wait time reveal that patients spend approximately two hours in a hospital (2017). The lengthy wait times are becoming impediments to ineffective service delivery and damages professionals’ trust. This is indeed a dangerous situation in the regular times of consolidation, skeptical populace, and litigation regulation. Patient wait time, although a small factor in consumer experience, can greatly influence patients’ satisfaction. Virtually, everyone has experience of delays when pursuing health objectives.
The mission of health facilities is to provide efficient and satisfactory services to society. Consumer satisfaction encompasses numerous aspects of service delivery such as staff attitude, level of service delivery, and mainly the cure aspect. However, some little elements of a health facility make patients angry. Delayed service delivery works against the hospital’s mission of consumer satisfaction. Besides damaging the facility’s reputation, the long wait times in hospitals bear other economic and social effects. What professionals in health facilities perceive as an integral part of their practice may be considered a time-wasting mistake that has been institutionalized by repetition (Iafolla, 2019). Hospitals, however, can adopt several corrective measures to cut down the amount of time patients spend in hospitals. Developing scheduling apps, task separation, and various techniques of harnessing employee ideas are some of the strategies health facilities can adapt to realize substantial progress in reducing patients’ wait time.
Strategies of reducing patients wait time
Hospitals can practice gathering patients’ information before their scheduled appointments. Collecting patients’ information upon arrival may seem convenient, but it clogs up the practice. Additionally, it demands for extra waiting time, as some patients are slow in filling their forms. The office staff can practice collecting patient’s insurance information, history, and referrals before the actual visit dates (2017). You will create great efficiencies if you have patients’ records waiting for in-office before patients arrive. To reduce the amount of time spent filling forms, staff can send all necessary forms before the actual appointment. Much time is spent collecting data and preparing the paperwork (Iafolla, 2019). It is advisable that facilities allow patients to fill out the forms themselves and having the entire necessary paperwork ready before the appointment. This way, hospitals can reduce delays at check-in.
Another efficient strategy for lowering patients’ wait time requires the separation of duties and delegation (Iafolla, 2019). The introduction of electronic health records systems comes in with several challenges. However, with the various system and staff related issues that may delay documentation, much time should focus on interaction with patients rather than completion of a time consuming process. Hospitals can establish a team care approach where a clinical assistant can undertake additional tasks like collecting patients history, prescriptions, test orders, and may take notes during doctor-patient sessions. Although setting up this workflow model requires time for training and adjustments, it is useful in that it ensures that most time is spent at enhancing service delivery and prevents an overload of administrative tasks (2017).
The introduction of the electronic health records system comes with the development of secure channels of relaying information including messaging. The adoption of secure messaging provides an alternative to telephone calls to communicate vital information to and from the patient. While it may be considered as an additional responsibility, messaging has the potential of increasing office efficiency and enhancing consumer satisfaction. Improved access to professional services elates the patients. Messaging is useful in that it reduces wait time by decreasing call time. Most importantly, patient-doctor message conversation allows the physicians to respond to patient’s queries away from the facility, therefore, reducing exam room time and generally wait time.
Health facilities can reduce patients’ wait time by introducing a policy for no-shows and late arrivals. A health facility should decide on a sustainable plan for dealing with defaulters and late arrivals. A late arrival policy sets a time limit for those who show up late for appointments. For instance, patients who show up late must know that the facilitator needs to reschedule their meeting (Iafolla, 2019). Introduction of a late fee or charging a regular offense may motivate patients to show up in time. To sustain the policy, health facilities need to make advance communication in many ways as possible. They may adopt emails, brochures, messaging, or verbal communication (2017). They must also consider enacting warnings, free pass, and grace period but must focus on communicating a message of time value. Late show ups damage the facilities finances as well as workflow causing a delay for other patients.
Health facilities ought to embrace technology and develop mobile queue management solutions. Mobile queue tools effectively reduce patients’ wait time and keep patients happy and informed. Software development as QLess provides an update of the projected wait time of wait for patients and physicians letting them know if they are running behind schedule (Iafolla, 2019). Virtual waiting lines update patients of their position helping them to plan for their time accordingly. Maintaining frequent communication with patients grants them greater control over their time besides helping healthcare providers to manage patients flow.
(2017). Retrieved from https://www.medprodisposal.com/15-ways-to-decrease-patient-wait-time
Iafolla, T. (2019). 8 Ways to Reduce Patient Wait Times. Retrieved from https://blog.evisit.com/reduce-patient-wait-times