The amount of time that patients spend waiting for their doctors directly impacts the provider’s satisfaction rating. A 2018 report on healthcare wait times showed that doctors who kept patients waiting the longest received a one-star rating by patients, the lowest ranking on the scale. At the same time, doctors with the shortest wait times received the highest rating of five stars.
The average wait time in the U.S. is 18 minutes and 13 seconds. It’s no surprise that patients are less satisfied when doctors keep them waiting. Unfortunately, eliminating long waiting times is not realistic in most healthcare offices.
What’s the solution? Be more transparent about delays and proactively communicate with patients. Much like how airlines send text messages to passengers alerting them of flight delays, healthcare teams can send patients automated messages letting them know when appointments will be delayed. The goal is to let patients know their provider is running behind schedule before they arrive for an appointment. This courtesy notification allows patients to adjust their arrival times so they can spend less time waiting around for healthcare professionals.
West surveyed 1,036 adults and 317 healthcare providers in the U.S. and discovered that 80 percent of patients would like to receive notifications from their healthcare team when providers are running late. Yet less than half (49%) of providers say their patients currently receive a text notification, voice call or email message letting them know when there are delays that will impact their appointments.
Implementing this communication strategy is as simple as sending an appointment reminder message, and it helps providers meet patients’ wishes for better communication and shorter wait times.
For more information about how healthcare providers and organizations can reduce wait times or, at the very least, frustration about wait times, download When Patients Are Waiting, Communication Is Key.