As a healthcare provider, it’s a continuous goal to stay on schedule in the office. Unfortunately, there are unpredictable occurrences that negatively affect the schedule such as late patients, emergencies, and other unforeseen factors. Although these instances are not always controllable, there are strategies you can incorporate to expedite your workflow and achieve real improvements. Here are five suggestions for reducing time in the waiting room:
1. Collect patient information before the appointment. Gathering information from patients― especially new patients― can help prevent check-in delays. Patient insurance and health history forms are examples of information that could be completed at the patient’s own leisure. To ensure optimal security, administrators can collect this information via a secure messaging platform.
2. Incorporate check-in kiosks. If you have a particularly busy practice, incorporating check-in kiosk stations near the reception area can serve as a great alternative for check-in procedures. Self-service kiosk solutions are helpful for administrators because it collects valuable patient data in an instant and allows patients to pay by credit card ahead of time.
3. Communicate delays to patients. Having a patient wait significantly beyond their scheduled appointment time can damper their overall experience. If you are running behind schedule, consider reaching out to patients prior to their appointment and suggest a new arrival time. Most people will appreciate the courtesy message and use the extra time to their advantage. A few methods of communication can include text messaging, phone calls, patient portal messaging or email.
4. Hire additional receptionists to improve efficiency. Instead of delegating tasks to one sole receptionist, consider dividing front-desk duties to various people to expedite procedures. Assigning specific roles such as answering the telephone, scheduling, and conducting check-ins can help your team stay organized throughout the day. Incorporating an effective front office strategy is essential for helping prevent a backlog of waiting patients.
5. Design a survey for patient input. Encourage patients to provide feedback about the details of their visit, including wait times and overall impression. The team can analyze patient input to identify areas in need of improvement.