4 More Ways to Reduce Appointment Waiting Time
We’ve written many times how the average patient waits 24 days for an appointment. In Philadelphia, the average wait for a dermatologist is 78 days! One of our most read blog posts catalogues four ways to reduce appointment lead times. With that in mind, here are four more ways to shorten appointment lead times.
Why Appointment Waiting Times Are So Long
Patient waiting time for appointments is long for one basic reason. The number of patients is growing at a faster rate than the number of providers. The elder population in the US is growing rapidly The aging population requires more care, “Aging adults experience higher risk of chronic disease. In 2012, 60% of older adults managed 2 or more chronic conditions”.
The Association of American Medical Colleges says that because of this growth, by 2030, there will be a “shortage of 100,000 doctors”. That’s why appointment wait times are so long and will not be getting shorter soon.
Four More Ways to Shorten Patient Wait Times
Encourage Patient Cancellations
Meeting patient demand requires suppling more appointments. One way to do that is to encourage patients who do not need their appointment to cancel. This frees up appointments for your autonomous patient access solution to fill.
Hire More Advanced Practice Providers
Creating more Advanced Practice Providers is easier to do than creating more physicians. That’s why Advanced Practice Providers in specialty care “will grow 141% by 2025 compared to physician growth, estimated at 21%.” Most importantly for the patient experience, “a retrospective study of 30 million patient visits to community health centers found that APPs cared for similar patient populations as physicians and achieved equivalent or better results on quality metrics”.
You Might Like – The Definitive Guide to Patient Access
Our most popular new product has been Schedule Balancing, which makes it easy for health systems to share patients between different providers. Schedule balancing shortens appointment waiting times but bringing patients in earlier for less busy providers. This is a great way to fill the schedules of those Advanced Practice Providers you just hired. Schedule Balancing operationalizes Team-Based care which allows health systems to “improve outcomes and the care experience in a cost-effective way.”
Improve Your Capacity Management Strategy
The appointment waiting time is not equal for all appointment types. New patient appointment types are booked out further than established patient appointment types. The way a health system templates can create artificial shortages for new patient appointments. The most successful health systems allow open templating where any appointment type can go in any slot. That way there are always openings for new patients.
Eight Total Ways to Shorten Appointment Waiting Time
- Expanding Office Hours – Do your providers struggle from overbooking? Expanding your office hours will allow more patients to be cared for in a day.
- Waitlist-Less Automation – When a patient cancels an appointment, use automated texting to send out a text to several other patients who may be interested in moving up their appointment.
- More Frequent Patient Communication – Delays are bound to happen, even with the perfect schedule. Keep lines of communication open with patients by letting them know of any delays.
- Open Queue Solutions – Open queue solutions are a patient-centered way of scheduling that gives patients greater flexibility in scheduling appointments and finding earlier slots to shorten their wait time.
- Encourage Patient Cancellations – Asking patients to cancel appointments they don’t need frees up slots for patients who need to be seen.
- Hire More APPs – Utilize APPs to meet the patient demand for more care.
- Schedule Balancing – Operationalize team care with Schedule Balancing.
- Improve Your Capacity Management Strategy – Practice open templating to remove artificial supply restrictions.