3 Ways Practices Can Start Reducing Patient Wait TimesPosted: September 30, 2021 - By Health Dev
Reducing patient wait time has always been a key concern for practices seeking to provide quality customer service and healthcare. Eliminating wait time altogether is close to impossible. In a delicate industry such as healthcare, you can’t simply let patients into the exam room as soon as they step into your medical practice. However, there are still ways you can drastically reduce patient wait times using a combination of new cutting-edge technology and logistical adjustments to take your practice to the next level.
If you’re struggling with a full waiting room, chances are you’re not alone. Start by setting up actionable steps to reduce wait times. Here are three practices to do exactly that.
1. Use Online Forms to let patients input their information before the appointment
Forms have always been an essential part of running a medical practice. They’re the optimal way to collect patient data, information for their medical file, and address their current needs and concerns. Paper patient forms do have their limitations, however.
Forms can contribute to the problem of wait time by taking a lot of time on average to fill. More often than not, they need to be filled soon before a patient’s appointment starts, prompting them to show up early to their appointment, crowd up the waiting room, and take up your reception staff’s time.
Edit your online forms to include a section for estimated arrival time before the appointment. Since patients can come from all over, arrival times drastically differ. In addition to collecting estimated arrival times from patients, online forms can have a deadline or a recommended time window to be filled out. You can also include notifications and reminders in the system to alert patients of upcoming appointments, as well as their optimal time of arrival.
2. Utilize Secure Messaging to communicate with patients
Messaging is one of the most efficient methods of digital communication. Unlike phone calls, letters, or formal emails, messages are quick and short. Patients can send in quick inquiries about their appointments or non-urgent conditions. This takes up less time on their part and the practitioner.
Often, patients just have minor health questions and concerns they want a physician to weigh in on. Normally, they’d have to book an additional appointment or show up unannounced and wait for their turn in the clinic’s waiting room to get their questions and concerns addressed. Not only does this increase the workload for your staff, but it also makes the waiting room slightly more crowded and riskier for the patients who need to be there in person for their appointments.
With a secure and reliable messaging line, patients can directly send in their concerns and questions to their healthcare provider. They can also receive quick responses without disturbing the flow in the clinic.
By utilizing a secure, HIPAA-compliant online messaging system between you and your patients, you can earn their trust and keep easily accessible records of all exchanges between you and the patient for future reference and liability.
3. Implement a Mobile Check-in process
While clinics typically work hard to prevent appointment overlap, early check-in requirements often mean that patients need to come in before their appointment to confirm their appointment and provide insurance or payment details. This results in more patients sitting idly in your waiting room just to check in with their appointments far ahead.
Luckily, there are multiple ways you can implement a mobile check-in system. By allowing patients to check in digitally, patients would be able to confirm they’ll show up for their appointment without having to arrive at the clinic ahead of time. This helps prevent time wasted by no-shows and late arrivals, while freeing up more waiting room space.
A solution you can almost immediately implement without needing an upfront investment is offering mobile check-in through the phone. Patients can be sent a confirmation link via text and the patient can confirm they have arrived.
Communicating Process Changes with Patients
At their core, any changes your clinic needs to meaningfully reduce patient wait times ought to be planned and intentional on your end. Patients need adequate time to receive news of the changing system. Make sure to craft a clear action plan for your patients before making the switch, so they’re able to get any clarification and support necessary to get on board with the new system.