Waiting is another word for lost time, and it’s always stressful and annoying. But waiting long times in a doctor’s office is not only stressful and potentially a health risk of cross-infections, it can also negatively impact the patient’s experience of the visit and treatment.
Turning the waiting room into a positive experience can benefit both the patient and the staff, and looking into virtual waiting room solutions can take the experience one step further. According to the CDC, the average American pays a visit to a physician’s office two to three times per year and has an average wait time of over 18 minutes per visit. That’s a lot of waiting in a room full of sick, anxious people. Another surveyfound that 85% of patients surveyed said they waited between 10 and 30 minutes past their scheduled appointment time. Notably, in that same survey, 63% viewed waiting as the most stressful part of the visit. In other words, they dreaded the time spent waiting more than going to the examination room.
The first key action to take to minimize the waiting times is to better managepatient flow with appointment scheduling. It gives patients the ability to schedule their own appointments. No more back and forth trying to coordinate schedules of patients and staff members. The benefits of appointment scheduling extend far beyond this, all of which leads to a real reduction in actual wait times.
Appointment scheduling lets a customer book, reschedule, or cancel appointments as well as request a service or a preferred staff member. Patients tend tobecome more attentive to the processwhen they play an active role in their patient journey. Additionally, since they’re more invested in the appointment, they arrive on time and are less likely to miss or cancel their appointments.
Scheduled appointments also monitor and help decrease walk-in volume. Because of this, the ability to react to sudden changes in the patient flow and adjust the operations as needed is increased among the staff. This waiting room solution starts any visit off more smoothly because not only the patient, but the medical practice itself, can instantly realize the benefits of greater efficiency.
Waiting Room Solution 2: Mobile Ticket
Mobile tickets is a virtual waiting room solution that actually keeps patients out of the physical waiting room. Patients can check in for their appointment and wait offsite until it is their turn. Their appointment or place in line is held virtually, so they can sit outside or run an errand in the meantime and monitor their queue progress easily on their phone. With a mobile ticket solution, you give your patients control over how they spend their time waiting, thus, enhancing their waiting experience.
Mobile tickets allow patients to receive a text about any changes in their wait times as well as notifications when it is their turn. An added benefit of virtual waiting rooms is that the patient’s health is less at risk because they’re not in the crowded rooms with other patients, reducing the risk of cross-infections. With a quicker, safer, and easier check-in, patients are more at ease, setting the stage for a more productive and pleasant visit.
Waiting Room Solution 3: Digital Signage
There are two ways to enhance the patient’s journey when it comes to waiting time. One is to reduce the actual wait time, and the second is to limit the perceived wait time, which is just as important to actively work on to improve the patient experience.
So, how can healthcare providers battle patient perception? One important part is communication, keeping the patient informed and in a sense of control, which can be done in the waiting room usingdigital signage. Communicating clearly and visibly with integrated media, and graphics about queue information is essentialto improve the perceived waiting time to enhance the patient experience. If there is a patient emergency and the wait will be longer, a posted update goes a long way in patients' understanding and acceptance that the waiting time will be longer.
Some of these same monitors can also be used for playing entertaining offerings such as videos or even live TV. Entertaining or perhaps distracting the patient can play just as big a role in reducing perceived wait times. For those waiting on-site, digital signage can let them see their wait in real-time and not just in their minds.
Starting off the visit demonstrating an efficient and safe medical practice sets the tone for the entire visit. By placing a focus on waiting room solutions, healthcare providers are able to create a more satisfying and productive experience for everyone involved.