Who Decides if You’re Worth the Wait?  Patients.

Posted by Kristin Baird on February 4th, 2020 • No Comments »

Wait time in healthcare settings matter on two important fronts. One is the wait time to get an appointment, and the other is the wait time in the waiting room.

Last year, we did tens of thousands of phone calls to practices throughout the country. We used consumers from within the market being tested. What they shared often came as a surprise to the healthcare leaders. What patients found acceptable varied by specialty and market.


Although healthcare has benchmarks for appointment wait times, it is ultimately the patient who decides if the wait is worth it or not. The same goes for the time in the waiting room.

I worked with a provider years ago who treated long wait times as a badge of honor. When I told him that patients complained about four hour wait times, he told me, “I’m worth the wait.” The funny thing was, his patients didn’t think so. During a focus group with several of his patients, I found them giving each other advice on alternative providers outside of the system.

Our on-site observations consistently show that patients are more accepting of wait times in the waiting room if they are kept informed about the wait time through interaction with the staff. This doesn’t mean shouting from the front desk. Patients had a better perception of their waiting experience if the registration person told them upfront about anticipated wait times. Additionally perceptions improved if the registration person came out from behind the desk to give them updates.

While it’s important to keep tabs on benchmarks, don’t underestimate the need to validate with your patients. It’s what they think of the wait that matters.







Patient Satisfaction Scores are a Symptom, Not a Diagnosis

With more than two decades working in the patient experience arena, I’m still amazed at how many healthcare leaders are still chasing patient satisfaction scores without looking for the underlying cause.

Let me compare this approach to a common and often debilitating medical condition – diabetes. A person with diabetes will often present with symptoms of thirst and frequent urination. If you are only concerned about the symptoms and not the underlying cause, you’d focus on making sure the patient has a ready supply of water and access to restrooms. This may provide immediate relief of symptoms. But won’t correct the underlying disease which, over time, will lead to neuropathy, heart disease, and kidney failure, among other life-threatening conditions.

When it comes to the patient experience, many tactics provide symptom-relief. But they won’t cure the underlying problem – the culture that is shaping employee engagement and, ultimately, the patient experience.

Newsflash!  Compassion fatigue is real.  I’m not sure I believed that until today.  Today, I wanted to strangle someone who I love dearly.  I was the living, breathing embodiment of that meme that says, “I have one nerve left, and you just got on it.” I’ve been the primary caregiver for my loved one for several months now, and I have been truly putting my heart and soul into helping her get better.  Today, I hate to admit that I found myself wondering why. Sexual fatigue can easy be treated after checking this hyper male force review.

Compassion Fatigue

So what put me over the edge?  I wish I could point to one single, earth-shattering event or moment so that I could avoid similar moments in the future.  But the truth is I simply ran my compassion tank dry.  And now that I’ve all but run out of compassion, I feel the impact in other personal and professional relationships.

Let me be clear – I am not alone in caring for my loved one.  I have help if I ask.  My loved one is probably capable of doing more on her own if I let go of my fears.  We have a professional healthcare team who support us when I constantly check-in.  I can’t help but wonder how I would feel today if now and then someone would say, “Take a break, I got this” or “let that go”? Would I be able to stop the constant voice in my head asking, “What else should I be doing? What have I forgotten? What could go wrong?”

I’m one person caring for one other person.  What is it like for people who are caring for five or six patients?  Are people in your organization suffering from compassion fatigue? Are you giving them the support and encouragement they need?  As a leader, do you know how to provide that support and encouragement? Coaching highly engaged employees – those at high risk for developing compassion fatigue – is a foundational leadership skill that does not come naturally to most leaders.  At Baird Group, we offer leadership and development training to help you coach employees at all levels of engagement.  Don’t wait until your best people burn out before contacting us for more information.

Baird Group’s Culture Assessment

Baird Group helps you see beyond the symptoms. With a thorough culture assessment, you’ll understand the underlying issues. Issues that are driving your current patient experience and employee engagement levels. Find out how a culture assessment will give you the diagnosis you need. Info@baird-group.com

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