3 tips to reduce patient wait times

By Matt Kuhrt

When Maine-based medical practices looked at patient survey results to target areas of improvement, they saw wait times toward the top of the list, according to a story in the Portland Press Herald. As a result of their efforts targeting delays, the state recently ranked third best in a national study of average wait times.

The increasing influence of online reviews have pressured practices to deal with wait times, according to previous reporting in FiercePracticeManagement. Details from the Press Herald's discussions with representatives of Lincoln Medical Partners and Southern Maine Health Care offer more specific guidance for practices seeking to reduce wait times:

  • Revisit procedures to ensure they're standardized and to improve training. In an audit of its internal medicine practice in Biddeford, Southern Maine Health Care was able to improve the patient experience by identifying and eliminating variations in the procedures used by different staff members and doctors. Adopting a standard set of procedures made it easier to train staff and led to a more consistent experience for patients, according to Karen Waycott, the organization's director of primary care operations.
  • Use a "morning huddle" to strategize and plan for the day. At Lincoln Medical Partners in Damariscotta, staff, nurses and doctors meet daily to scope out potential issues and identify potential openings that might accommodate emergencies, Andrew Russ, M.D., medical director of primary care at the practice, told the publication. "The single most effective thing we do is the morning huddle," said Russ regarding his team's efforts to reduce delays.
  • Solicit suggestions for change from all stakeholders, including patients, doctors, nurses and staff. Southern Maine Health Care accomplishes this with an advisory group, allowing them to drive improvements based on recommendations from "people who are living and breathing the systems every day," said Lori Cote, practice manager at Southern Maine Health Care Internal Medicine.

To learn more:
- read the story