Simple ways to reduce patient wait times for independent physicians

Long patient wait times are an issue for the patient, for the physician, and for the independent practice staff. The potential for health concerns increases with extended wait times, particularly among chronically ill patients. The patient’s overall visit quality may be impacted by a longer wait time. In addition, as reimbursement moves to a value-based system, the patient’s satisfaction level and quality of care may have an impact on the independent physician’s financial situation as well.

Reducing patient wait times can be a simple matter of making some adjustments within the independent practice.

  • Optimize the use of technology tools. Take advantage of advanced options such as scheduling software, electronic health records (EHR), and online patient communication. When the independent physician is able to seamlessly and effortlessly access patient records, including any concerns the patient may have communicated, and use EHRs for completing chart information, appointments run more efficiently.
  • Dedicate the front desk staff to checking in and answering questions from patients in the independent practice office. Lines to check in are often held up by front desk staff answering phone calls. When those phone calls are redirected to another dedicated team member, the front desk can more efficiently serve those patients who are in the office, ready to see their physician.
  • Study and analyze wait times during late morning and afternoons to develop a realistic picture of wait times in the independent practice. Early morning appointments are usually not delayed and do not provide an accurate assessment of how long patients have to wait to see their physician.
  • Make the independent physician’s schedule more efficient. Review the schedule for open and overbooked times. Determine how the schedule can be more efficient, to help reduce wait times, especially for those late afternoon appointments.

Elation’s tools can help make an independent practice more efficient, so the physician is able to spend more time focusing on patient care and less time on paperwork. Patients are happier and healthier, as their wait time is reduced and the quality of the time they spend with their physician is increased.