While patient wait times may seem like only a tiny segment of the overall patient experience, they can profoundly impact overall patient satisfaction when it comes to their healthcare providers. According to one survey conducted by Software Advice involving more than 5,000 patients, an astounding 97% of respondents reported feeling frustrated by the length of waiting times they experience at doctor’s offices and noted their dissatisfaction with the wasted time.
Because speed and efficiency are the order of the day, there’s little wonder why so many people are frustrated with wait times, especially within large, complex healthcare systems. Just like there’s little wonder why low patient satisfaction negatively impacts healthcare practices.
Below, our team of passionate medical professionals from Clearstep will explore five key strategies large healthcare systems can leverage to reduce patient wait times while increasing overall patient satisfaction significantly.
Related: Return on Health: The business case for a value got stronger in 2020 (Part 1)
Tip #1: Allow Trained Staff to Handle Documentation
While there’s a decent amount of paperwork that naturally comes with working in any position within the medical field, doctors and nurses should ideally be dedicating the vast majority of their time to interacting with patients rather than completing piles of time-consuming documentation. Rather than allowing mountains of paperwork to pile up for one person to complete, other trained staff should be leveraged to handle additional documentation tasks.
This tactic is a vital part of a practical team-based care approach to operations and helps ensure no one will get overloaded with paperwork. It may be helpful for medical facilities to form designated teams to handle specific paperwork to prevent a backlog that slows everything down.
Tip #2: Always Use Secure Messaging Technology
Medical facilities leverage secure electronic health record (EHR) systems to ensure that confidential patient information is kept secure from unauthorized parties. While many EHR systems also feature secure messaging options that allow medical providers to communicate important information to patients, not all of them do. If your healthcare system doesn’t currently have access to such secure messaging options through its EHR platform, it’s essential to invest in one.
Secure messaging systems provide a wide range of benefits for healthcare facilities that leverage them well. For example, they;
- Help protect patient information and reduce the potential for lawsuits
- Facilitate a fast, easy, and effective way for providers to communicate with patients
- Improve overall patient satisfaction
- Eliminate issues related to “phone tag.”
Clearstep is here to help your health system gain and maintain high patient satisfaction and retention levels.
Tip #3: Actively Enforce a No Show Policy
If a health system hasn’t already established a clear policy for dealing with no-shows or late patients, they need to create one and stick to it. Patients who are late to appointments or don’t show up at all can severely damage a health system’s bottom line and create significant problems for patient scheduling and wait times. Many health systems leverage a range of policies to help protect against these issues. Some of the most common policy standards include;
- Setting time limits for arrivals
- Requiring patients to reschedule appointments if they’re more than 30 minutes late
- Charging late or cancellation fees (especially to repeat offenders)
- Reminding patients about their appointment times the day before and the day of the appointment via call, text, or email
Health systems should always give patients advanced notice of these policies in multiple ways, such as email, phone calls, voice mails, brochures, and signs around the office.
Related: Return on Health: The business case for value got stronger in 2020 (part 2)
Tip #4: Use Surveys to Pinpoint Weakness or Bottlenecks
Sometimes the most vital and valuable feedback comes from those working outside the medical industry or a single healthcare system. Patients can be a fantastic source of information, and healthcare systems should actively leverage their input to find prospective weaknesses, bottlenecks, or other issues they can start to correct. Providing patients with a survey that asks them to track their timeline from arrival to exit will allow managers to locate where patients spend the most time and help them figure out ways to optimize patient flow.
Tip #5: Turn to Telehealth to Reduce the Burden
Telehealth or telemedicine is an easy and highly cost-effective way for patients to meet with medical providers within a larger health system, allowing them to receive the care they need quickly and efficiently without ever having to come into a medical facility. Telehealth helps healthcare providers streamline patient record gathering and check-in processes while reducing the risk of no-shows and late arrivals.
Telehealth can also help cut the average office visit time by allowing medical providers to meet with more patients during a single shift. Telehealth is also known to provide higher levels of patient satisfaction because it will enable people to communicate with their physicians from the comfort of their own homes without having to commute to a clinic or waste time in a waiting room.
Related: Pushing the Boundaries of Virtual Care
Concluding Factors to Consider
It’s essential for healthcare systems to leverage effective strategies that can help reduce the wait times that patients have to contend with to ensure they're satisfied with their experience and care. By leveraging the five great tips above, your healthcare system can start significantly decreasing wait times and increasing satisfaction while also cutting unnecessary costs, opening up a wide range of financial resources you can allocate to patient care and other critical areas of operation.
If you’d like to look through more information on a wide range of critical healthcare topics, please consider exploring our selection of expertly written resources at Clearstep. You can also contact our team of specialized healthcare professionals to learn about how our specially designed AI solutions can help your facility save even more money while enhancing patient care.
Are you searching for new ways to improve patient care and retention? Our specialized solutions from Clearstep can help!