Payers Helping Patients Reduce Wait-times, May Not Be Good For Your Practice
Managing, and reducing, patient wait-times has always been a focus for medical organizations. Lengthy patient wait-times turn untreated medical conditions into hospital stays, cause undue stress for your patients and could result in a patient finding earlier care elsewhere.
In fact, earlier this year, UnitedHealth Group launched a service dedicated to help patients get seen earlier, at the in-network practice with the first available appointment. Their commercial was titled “Taming the Inner Hulk”
Don’t let payers and third parties suggest your patients get seen elsewhere due to your lengthy wait-times. Here are steps you can take to ensure you are managing your wait-time appropriately,
Knowledge is power - examine how far out you are booking patients. To get a more accurate evaluation of wait-time, look at the third appointment availability. Due to a high volume of cancellations and no-shows, the first available appointment gives a skewed sense of reality for when patients are scheduled. This will be your benchmark for improvement.
Streamline the front desk – patients should complete as much of the pre-registration as possible prior to arriving for the visit. This will help ensure in-office wait times are reduced and providers are not left waiting on patients. Mail paperwork prior to the visit, or for a faster greener approach there are a lot of technology solutions out there that can assist in capturing this information.
Schedule density – arguably the most important of the three. Providers have an allotted amount of time available to see patients. To keep your wait times down you need to manage open slots in your schedule. Keeping a calling list or waitlist is one way you can manage filling cancellations and getting patients in faster but this is hard and organizations consistently struggle! Like streamlining the front desk there is technology that will not only help you with this but is much more efficient than dedicating staff to this task.
Reducing wait-times are a big win – for your patients, providers and your bottom line. As the demand for care increases, patient wait-times are something you will need to keep monitoring.