Why waiting time is more than a metric in the patient experience

Why waiting time is more than a metric in the patient experience

Jeff Green |August 3 2017 7 min

In April, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs launched a website called Access to Care that relays patient experience metrics like wait times at its clinics. It also compares VA hospitals against other medical facilities in a region on measures like how quickly a veteran can get an appointment and satisfaction with care.

In highly regulated sectors like healthcare, U.S. directives create challenges – but they also create opportunities. In particular, regulations establish a compliance level that ultimately represents the minimum an organization must do to stay secure and competitive. They also can justify putting funds to work to improve functions that have the potential for solid ROI, but might otherwise get down prioritized by more immediate operational demands.

For federal clinics, the Access to Care mandate raises a valuable question that could result in lasting efficiencies – and more importantly, to an improved work environment for caregivers and a consistently excellent patient experience.

How much of your operations budget can be tied directly to an excellent patient experience?

Putting Workflow Information to Work

Chances are, you’re already capturing workflow data. Most clinics already engage appointment interfaces, analytics that shows patient volume by days and times, and databases of average wait times. (That’s the kind of information available to veterans on the Access to Care site.) But how effective is your clinic looking at that data as a resource to equip the workforce to perform their roles more knowledgeably and how well are you keeping patients informed about their status in real time?

Patients enter a clinic or lab with the awareness that they’ll have to wait at least a little bit. But when they don’t know how long the wait will be, who to ask, or where they are in the intake process (or if there’s a process), their experience is more stressful than necessary and likely unpleasant.

For the members of the clinic or lab team, workflow data keeps them prepared to answer patient questions, manage expectations, and deliver a clear, fair and obvious process. We see time and again that this reliable awareness and empowerment creates higher levels of job satisfaction, which in turn improves the patient experience.

The ROI of a Patient Journey Solution is More than Financial

As your clinic considers the ROI of a patient journey solution, keep in mind that frontline staff typically represents the highest cost for any healthcare provider. Integrate the capacity to gather and employ workflow information helps your care providers to build a step-by-step patient journey that asks and answers vital questions. The insights inform staffing capabilities, the care environment, and what processes (like check in) could be automated on kiosk or mobile. In other words, an integrated, care focused solution can create efficiencies that impact the bottom line, the quality of the care offered, and the patient experience.

In public clinics and lab environments across the globe Qmatic is helping care providers to put data to work in new ways. We help these public caregivers to integrate resources that gather and transform patient journey insights into measurable improvements.

Qmatic solutions improve staff, service time, and patient wait time efficiency in pharmaceutical and lab environments by an average of 18%.

Consider that 18% of an hour is approximately 11 minutes. Depending on how those 11 minutes are used, a few things can happen. Managed poorly, the waiting environment can get exponentially crowded, staff can field additional (unnecessary) questions, and a patient who already feels bad or anxious will feel worse. If the resources are in place to use those 11 minutes to satisfy the need for care, the environment will operate more smoothly, the team will be able to see more patients, and the patients will enjoy a process that makes them feel cared for and better.

It’s amazing what 11 minutes and a few data points can do for a clinic environment and the people in it. The new VA Access to Care requirement is an opportunity. Look at how well your data positions your clinic for patient care excellence. Determine whether your workforce has the real-time information needed to create an environment of great care. Qmatic can help you identify the considerations that will allow you to answer these important questions so you can sustain the highest quality of care.

Waiting time is a key factor to consider in the overall patient experience. We have put together a mini-guide on how digitization can reduce patient waiting times. In this guide, you will find:

  • Why waiting is a concern for healthcare providers and how it affects the patient experience
  • Ways to reduce actual and perceived waiting times
  • How to improve patient satisfaction with patient journey management

Feel free to download the mini-guide; just click the button below!

Download mini guide


Jeff Green

Jeff Green

Chief Operating Officer.

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