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Managing patient wait times expectations makes a huge impact on their satisfaction

Prolonged patient wait time is a source of patient dissatisfaction

There is a strong relationship between wait time and satisfaction (Baalbaki et al., 2008; Mehra, 2016; Sorup and Jacobsen, 2013). Barlow, 2002 and Hensely and Sulek, 2007 found that as delays and wait time increase, dissatisfaction also increases. Barlow, 2002 confirmed this finding in Emergency Rooms, Bielen and Demoulin, 2007 across multiple services, and Bleustein et al., 2014 in Primary Care.

Bleustein et al., 2014 surveyed 44 ambulatory clinics within a large academic medical center and found that longer wait times are negatively associated with clinical provider scores of patient satisfaction, indicating that every aspect of patient experience – specifically confidence in the care provider and perceived quality of care – correlated negatively with longer wait times.

As waiting time to see a physician increases, so does patient anxiety, which relates to the patient experience and satisfaction with the provider (Press Ganey, 2009). Maister 1984 offers 8 basic principles that can be easily translated into the healthcare sector:

  • Occupied time feels shorter than unoccupied time
  • Time spent waiting to begin the service experience will feel longer than time actually spent in the experience itself
  • Anxious waits feel longer than non-anxious ones
  • Waits of uncertain length feel longer than certain ones
  • Unexplained waits feel longer than explained waits
  • Unfair waits feel longer than fair ones
  • Solo waits feel longer than comfortable ones
  • Interesting waits are shorter than uninteresting ones
RTLS-enabled wait time communication makes a huge impact

As we mentioned in our previous post, Dana Farber Cancer Institute clinically validated how RTLS data can be utilized to provide operational insights. They found that patients responded with greater than 96% satisfaction with wait time communication after an RTLS derived algorithm estimated and communicated wait times. Moreover, providers and leadership also reported increased satisfaction after the introduction of RTLS.

At Apprentice Health, we believe that communication of wait times with patients should be a standard of care as patient and family satisfaction increases with real-time updates on estimated wait times. As part of Apprentice Health's Workflow software modules, our Patient Rooming View gives each patient real-time updates on their predicted wait times and care milestones. Chat with us and we’ll get you started in months.

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