Whether you're at the DMV, hair salon, restaurant, or the doctor's office, having to wait for your appointment or reservation can be annoying. The last thing you want to do it waste your patients' time if your schedule starts to fall behind. While sometimes it can't be avoided, there are a few strategies you can put in place in your practice that can help your schedule stay on track and avoid backups in your waiting room.
5 Strategies for Decreasing Patient Wait Time
Promote Your Patient Portal
Some of the greatest benefits of a patient portal are that you can easily share information with your patients, including pre-appointment paperwork. Patients can log into their portal and fill out questionnaires, medical history, and general information. This means they won't have to do as much paperwork, if any, when they come in for their appointment and your staff can bring them back for pre-testing on time.
Give Your Tech More Responsibility
Speaking of pre-testing, what responsibilities do you give your optical tech? The more tasks they can take on, the fewer tasks for the OD, which should help avoid bottlenecks in the exam lane. Or, if you don't have a tech in your practice, you might want to consider bringing one on! Your tech can do things like take chief complaint, collect additional patient history, and take the patient through pre-testing jobs. Your tech should be able to quickly relay information to the you so your patient isn't repeating themselves at each step of the workflow.
Implement a Policy
Late and no show patients are stressful on your staff and other patients in your practice. While it's understandable that sometimes life just gets in the way, your patients should be respectful of your time. You can implement a late and no show policy that is clearly communicated to all patients so they are aware of any fee they may incur if they decide to skip out or show up late.
Encourage Feedback from Patients
If you want to make improvements to your patient experience, ask your patients for feedback! You can do this through the patient portal where you can send out post-appointment surveys. Or, simply by asking them about their experience at the end of their appointment. Some patients might feel awkward providing critical feedback face to face, so it's usually best to provide some type of anonymous method for feedback.
Make Your Waiting Room Comfortable
If your patients are going to be stuck a few extra minutes in your waiting room, make sure that the area is a comfortable place to be. Provide entertainment with things like tvs, magazines, kid zone, iPads for games and browsing, complimentary beverages, etc. On top of entertainment, make sure the waiting room furniture is organized in a way that is comfortable, and make sure that your furniture is in fact comfortable.