Manage Wait Time Expectations for a Better Patient Experience

Posted by Kristin Baird

Have you ever checked in for a medical appointment at the scheduled time only to be left waiting? I’m willing to bet that anyone reading this blog will say yes to this question. The challenge in most waiting situations is that no one lets you know that there will be a wait or what the wait time is. Personally, I can tolerate waiting much better if someone keeps me informed.

A few weeks ago, my colleague and I were teaching the Power of One for medical practice staff. During one of the practice exercises, I heard a woman tell her tablemates how she hates when patients come back up to the desk and ask the wait time. “I feel for them because our doctors are always running behind. I just don’t know what to say.”

How to Handle Expectations

How about pre-empting the wait time question by telling the patient when they check-in that the doctor is running behind and that you will keep them informed? In an ideal world, we manage patient expectations about the wait time when they first arrive and follow up periodically with updates.

Waiting can be irritating, but it’s a bit more tolerable when you know what to expect. There are dozens of opportunities in healthcare to manage patient expectations and wait times are just one. Where can you do a better job of managing expectations?

  1. Manage Patient Expectations About Money
  2. Is Wait Time a Deal Breaker in the Patient Experience?
  3. A Brochure Can’t Communicate Empathy
  4. Keep me Informed or I’ll Think you Don’t Care
  5. Lead or Manage for a Better Patient Experience?
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