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Friday, November 26, 2021  

Waiting Room BuzzPublished 12/9/2008

As a consultant I find myself spending a great deal of time in waiting rooms. I am usually there waiting to see the hospital administrator, physician or the office manager, but none the less I am sitting among the patients that are waiting to see your staff.

Have you ever really thought about what the patient sees from their perspective, what they think about while waiting on you or what they want when it comes to the big, long wait in your waiting room? There is a great deal of buzz in most waiting rooms that I visit. It comes in all shapes and sizes.

The waiting room is usually filled with patients that have a great deal of anxiety, stress, worry and agitation on their minds and very little time and patience. All the different emotions create a buzz. To top that off the patients all have to wait on their turn.

There are numerous studies out that show that all patients want less waiting time in emergency room departments and physicians’ offices. As a CEO, office manager or staff member, you have probably thought about what you could do to make the waiting room experience shorter. For some I can tell that they haven’t even given the idea a thought. It is still amazing to me to see that there are physicians’ offices that still have signs up to remind their patients that if they haven’t been called within thirty minutes please advice the front office staff.

I have also seen hospitals elect to use the hand held buzzer waiting room method while waiting on x-ray to be performed. This method is done whereby a patient is given a hand held buzzer similar to the ones they hand out in restaurants while they wait. When the buzzer goes off it is an indication that it is their turn for service.

Some hospitals are even purchasing elaborate informational televisions to entertain us while we wait. Does any of this really make the wait any shorter for the patient? The answer is no. There are even guidelines printed in major magazines that instruct the patient on, how to reduce the time spent in a doctor’s waiting room, but most of these don’t work either because the patient do not comply.

Some suggestions that I have seen:

v Try to get the earliest appointment in the morning, or the first appointment after lunch. During each of those times you’ll avoid a backed up group of patients and you have a better chance of spending less time in the waiting room.

v When you make your appointment, ask which day of the week is the lightest scheduling day. Fewer patients on that day will hopefully mean shorter wait times.

v When you book your appointment, make sure the doctor won’t just be returning from a vacation or conference, or a period of time out of the office.

v If the doctor sees children as patients, then try not to book your appointment on a school holiday.

We all know that increasing office efficiency decreases waiting room time, but what can we do as administrators or health care professionals to make the wait in the examination room or waiting room shorter and more pleasant? We can do plenty.

What I have found is that most health care facilities do not know the actual amount of time that a patient waits for a procedure or office visit. It is only when we consciously review our office or hospitals practices that a difference can be made.

Start out the New Year with less waiting time for your patients and you will find that your patients are more satisfied.

Deresa Claybrook, MS, RHIT has over 25 years in the health care industry. She is the president of Positive Resource, which specializes in Human Resource Management and Health Information Management, with a special emphasis on transitioning the health care community to the Electronic Health Record (EHR).

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