Top 10 Ways to Reduce Patient Wait Times in Hospitals and Clinics

Healthcare providers constantly try to stay on schedule. But due to unpredictability in the healthcare sector, sticking to the schedule may become difficult. Common situations that lead to increased wait time include late patients, staff challenges, emergencies, and other unforeseen factors.

Nothing is more frustrating for patients than waiting for a long time to consult a healthcare professional. While waiting time may seem like a small part of the overall patient experience, it can harm patient satisfaction. Moreover, it reduces the patient’s confidence in the provider and their healthcare services. So how can you improve patient satisfaction? By reducing long wait times in hospitals and clinics! Let’s delve deeper to learn some effective ways of reducing waiting time for your patients.

How to Reduce Waiting Time for Patients?

Fortunately, there are several ways to cut long wait times in hospitals and improve patient satisfaction. The top ten strategies for the same include:-

1. Collect Information About the Patient Before their Appointment

While it may seem convenient to collect patient information when they arrive at the hospital or clinic, it usually results in delayed check-ins. It creates extra wait time as some patients may take longer to fill out forms. Solution? Streamline the paperwork process by allowing patients to fill out forms while scheduling appointments. Having all the paperwork ready before arriving at the hospital can help prevent delays and improve efficiency.

2. Delegate Documentation to Focus on Your Core Expertise

As a healthcare professional, you should focus on interacting and caring for the patients rather than completing complex documentation. The best solution to this problem is streamlining your clinical workflow. Implement high and low-tech solutions like a new EMR (Electronic Medical Record) system to manage patients’ medical history. Moreover, you can separate different duties and delegate them to the other trained staff. This prevents too many check-ins and delays.

3. Use a Patient Portal to Streamline Data Collection

Using patient portals can significantly lower the patient waiting time. Portals are secure online websites offering patients 24-hour access to their health information. With these portals, patients can fill out forms, submit insurance information, update their medical history, and schedule non-urgent appointments. As a result, it frees up the time of your medical staff.

4. Use Secure Messaging Instead of Phone Calls

While a phone call can be a nice appointment reminder, most patients prefer a text over a call. Most EHR (Electronic Health Records) systems offer a secure messaging feature to help you communicate reminders and other important information to your patients. The text message feature can reduce the number of calls you receive, eliminating longer phone time and allowing you to respond to patient queries quickly.

5. Use a Mobile Queue App

Offering mobile queue apps is a great solution to reducing wait times and keeping your patients happy. These apps allow patients to join a virtual waiting line before entering the hospital or clinic. It keeps them updated on their position in the line and the expected wait time. As a result, patients can have greater control over their time for running errands instead of sitting in the waiting room.

6. Enforce a Strict Policy for Late Arrivals and No-Shows

Patients who show up late for their appointment disrupt the workflow, increasing the wait time for all other patients. Therefore, creating a policy to deal with no-shows and late arrivals is important. Set a time limit for late arrivals, after which the patients may need to reschedule. Additionally, you can charge a late fee for repeated cancellations. Ensure to communicate this policy to your patients through emails, brochures, text messages, etc., saving their time and yours.

7. Offer Telemedicine Solutions

A telemedicine solution can prevent no-shows and late arrivals. Also, it can reduce the average office visit time by half. Virtual treatment offers convenient access to healthcare professionals for patients seeking treatment from their homes. It effectively eliminates the time spent traveling or sitting in the waiting room.

8. Develop Multi-Disciplinary Protocols

Create unique patient protocols for illnesses like chest pain, head injury, abdominal pain, etc. These protocols include nursing procedures, suggested lab tests, and physician’s instructions. The healthcare team can then follow a pre-determined treatment approach for patients with these illnesses. As a result, it will save patient waiting time.

9. Provide a Comfortable Waiting Area

Sometimes, you may not be able to eliminate wait time completely. However, you can provide a comfortable waiting space for the patients. Restructuring the waiting room with comfy seats and adequate lighting, stocking it with educational material and magazines, and offering free Wifi and TV entertainment can improve the waiting experience of your patients.

10. Conduct a Survey to Collect Data on Patient Wait Time

The reasons for delays in your daily schedule and increases in your patient’s wait time may not always be clear. To understand the same, you can hand out a survey and track your patients’ time in the reception, exam room, and with their doctor.
Pro-tip: Hand out the survey on various days and weeks to obtain a precise picture of where the problem lies.

Bottom Line

Reducing long wait times in your hospital or clinic can boost patient satisfaction and increase your patient base. Leverage HCreative’s healthcare marketing solutions to improve your online presence and reduce patient wait times significantly. From patient intake, surveys, and appointment reminders to secure web access, waiting room engagement, and online medical forms, we can help you streamline your complete workflow. Get in touch with us to know how about our range of service offerings.