Practices have two choices to address worsening wait times

Despite increasing industry insights into how deeply patients are bothered by long waits to see a physician, the problem appears to be getting worse, according to a new Vitals Physician Wait Time Report.

According to Vitals' analysis of patient-reported wait times from its database of more than 870,000 physicians, the shortest average wait time to see a doctor increased by more than a minute from 2011 to 2012. Specifically, Alaska boasted the shortest wait time this year, getting patients face-to-face with physicians in an average of 16 minutes and 28 seconds--a significant bump from Wisconsin's winning time last year of 15 minutes and 26 seconds.

The state with the longest average physician wait time for 2012 was Nevada, at 23 minutes and 2 seconds.

Previously, FiercePracticeManagement has reported on ways practices can cut wait time, including the following tips:

  • Using doctors' allotment of new appointments for new patients, while delegating follow-up appointments to other staff members.
  • Keeping physicians and staff on track with regular team meetings and monthly meetings with the department medical director.
  • Developing contingency plans to handle periods of high demand.

In a recent post for Physicians Practice, blogger Audrey "Christie" Mclaughlin, RN, shared her take on the issue, writing: "First you must acknowledge you have a problem. And this problem could be anything from wasting time between patients, to showing up late, to spending too much time chatting with patients. Whatever your 'time waster' is, you basically have two choices: Stop it OR schedule your patients appropriately around it."

To learn more:
- read the announcement from Vitals
- see the post from Physicians Practice