How a Patient Queue Management System Improves Healthcare Waits

Introduction To A Patient Queue Management System

Healthcare organizations have a clear imperative to evolve alongside technology. Technology has already transformed the industry numerous times, whether it's new medicines, ways to diagnose, or equipment. While keeping up with the constant stream of innovations is difficult for the average organization, it is important. In a hugely competitive industry, implementing technologies that make the lives of your patients easier and more convenient is a must. That is what a patient queue management system can do.

A patient management system is software designed to automate and control patient flow.

Patient flow significantly impacts the quality of care your customers receive. Congested patient flow means long waits in crowded waiting rooms. This is a safety hazard for customers and a risk for healthcare organizations. Customers are stuck in long waits and are rarely satisfied with their experience.

What patient queue management systems do is virtually organize healthcare organizations’ patient calendars. It is a system where customers can schedule appointments, check in virtually for their appointments, and monitor the wait time online.

For healthcare offices, these systems help them organize their calendar and control their day-to-day without needing the same time investment and organization work. These systems' biggest impact is improving customer service and patient experience. The healthcare industry struggles to provide consistently positive customer experiences because they are overburdened with huge demand, and their customers are often ailing when they arrive. Wait times and the waiting experience are significant frustrating components of the healthcare experience. According to Binary Fountain, 43% of patients find this to be the most frustrating aspect of their doctor visits.

A patient queue management system has the potential to flip the script, providing a positive waiting experience and enabling smoother operations. Let’s look at some of the ways a management system like QLess can streamline the patient care journey and create a more efficient healthcare organization.

The Risk of a Crowded Waiting Room

A crowded waiting room is a norm in the typical patient journey. Whether you are visiting your doctor’s office or the emergency room, chances are you will be in for a significant wait.

According to PartnerMD, "The average wait time at a doctor’s office is more than 18 minutes". In emergency rooms, "The average wait time is 145 minutes" according to AutoInsurance.

Wait times are a natural part of an industry when doctors, nurses, and front desk staff can’t handle the pace of customer flow. However, not only do patients dislike them, but they can also pose a hazard to your patients. Patients who are seeking medical assistance, whether at their primary care providers or a chiropractor, are dealing with some kind of ailment. A lot of the time, these are benign things that can be cured and aren’t transmissible.

However, there are a lot of other circumstances where patients are made to sit in a crowded waiting room with many other customers, many carrying contagious illnesses. This has become all the more prominent during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are entering a period where the worst days of the pandemic appear to be behind us, but concerns linger. COVID caused a significant spike in fears of crowds, and understandably so. Being in large groups became dangerous, and healthcare centers were at the heart of it.

Patients dealing with symptoms would head to emergency rooms or doctors' offices, which made waiting areas a significant hazard. Even as the virus has died down, concerns over crowded waiting areas remain significant. According to a QLess survey 250 US men and women aged 45+, 59.4% agreed that they associate crowded waiting rooms and lines with potentially unsafe conditions. That is why healthcare offices have an imperative to make their waiting areas less crowded. Customers will feel and likely be safer, leading to better health outcomes and higher patient satisfaction.

Removing Physical Congestion from Healthcare Offices With Queue Management Systems

There are answers for organizations that want to remove congestion in their waiting spaces. Yes, waits are an inevitable part of the healthcare system, but they don’t necessarily have to involve physical congestion.

A patient queue management system can give a health care provider a solution that enables virtual waiting. This has the potential to eliminate physical waits in crowded waiting rooms.

A queue management system for clinics or hospitals works in a straightforward way. Your customers check in for their appointment on their phones. They receive a projected wait using real-time data. They’ll receive updates throughout their wait from the system, notifying them when it is time to enter the office. When it is time for their appointment, they can walk into the office and either complete any in-person check-in process or enter the office for their appointment.

The upside is that customers don’t have to be in your waiting room to be checked in. It is a straightforward path to removing physical queues and ensuring the spread of contagion in your office is minimized. This serves to make the care process more customer-friendly and seamless.

The QLess technology also blends walk-in customers with scheduled appointments, ensuring that offices with different customer types can maintain their typical calendars.

The QLess features enable businesses to set preferences for their calendar, favoring customers with appointments, prioritizing certain appointment types, or abiding by any other kinds of rules.Wait times do happen; that is a normal part of medical care. However, long in-person waits aren’t the necessity many clinics and offices believe. That is why doctor’s offices and urgent care clinics worldwide have been implementing QLess and patient queue management systems. Packed waiting rooms are both unnecessary and a source of anxiety for customers. Eliminating this and implementing a virtual waiting room will decongest your business and create a safer work environment.

Enable Smoother Communication for Better Results

A significant component of a positive customer experience is good communication. This is all the more important in healthcare, where communication often falls by the wayside. The communication components of the QLess’ patient queue management system ensure customers arrive on time for their appointments and don’t miss them. They do this by providing bi-directional communication features that allow patients and staff to message back and forth. This makes the check-in process drastically smoother. Your patients can message staff to provide updates, and staff can respond, allowing for easy and natural virtual communication. Unlike emails, which often go unopened or are sent to junk folders, these messages will go straight to customers' phones, increasing the likelihood they are seen and responded to.

The use of communication features can help with customer service, the waiting process, and reducing appointment no-shows. With customer service, your patients want to feel that their voices are heard. They want staff to be accessible and to have delays explained to them. Patients also want to be able to provide updates on their health.

The QLess communication features allow healthcare staff to message customers at scale. They can schedule automated messages, send mass messages to specific groups, or customize their message to individuals. QLess for healthcare also has automated notification features that help throughout the appointment process. They notify customers of their spot in line when they’ve checked in and provide updates throughout. That way, customers can arrive for their appointments at the right time without disrupting customer flow.

The automated notification features are also impactful appointment reminders that can be sent via SMS to customers. This will help reduce appointment no-shows.

It has been found that appointment no-shows cost the US healthcare industry $150 billion every year, as staff block off their valuable time for customers that don’t come and pay. Better appointment reminders and overall communication can fix this.

With QLess, staff can schedule automated reminders for customers via SMS. Customers can respond to confirm their appointments or cancel them. This will remove some of the day-of mystery over whether customers will arrive and ensure that the rate of appointment no-shows will decline.

Overall, better communication means a smoother end-to-end process for customers and more clarity for businesses. The QLess healthcare virtual queue software makes mass communication easier and more efficient, helping medical care offices stay connected.

person holding white Android smartphone in white shirt utilizing a patient queue management system

Ensure Maximum Comfort, Convenience, and Satisfaction

There are a lot of ways to achieve success in the healthcare industry. Quality care is the biggest determiner of your ability to survive and thrive as a business in this field. But just as important is customer satisfaction. Quality care is important to satisfaction, but it isn’t the end-all. Customer service, convenience, and patient comfort both go a long way toward determining whether you earn a repeat customer or a one-time, dissatisfied patient.

A patient queue management system can help ensure healthcare offices earn customer loyalty by creating a more comfortable and convenient experience. Customer convenience is not something businesses should overlook in this age of options. Customers exist in a marketplace with nearly limitless options, and more often than not, what determines their decision-making is how convenient something is to them.

According to a PWC study, 43% of customers will pay more if something is convenient to them, with 70% of customers saying speed and convenience are the most important things for them.

Consumers emphasize speed and convenience. These are two of the last things that come to mind when you enter the typical waiting room. Sitting in a crowded waiting room with old magazines and a TV playing the muted news is hardly an enjoyable, fast, or convenient experience.

However, with QLess, customers can now remotely check-in. That means they can wait for their appointments from wherever they please, with updates coming to them through their phone. This makes the waiting process drastically more convenient.The QLess patient scheduling system has also made the waiting process much more efficient.

QLess can improve operational efficiencies by up to 90% and reduce the number of patients waiting by up to 35%. By automating the line and appointment schedule, QLess improves the speed of a healthcare organization. Cutting down on service time will go a long way toward creating happier and more loyal customers.

Customer experience is a big indicator of success. That's why minimizing wait times and improving the waiting experience are so important. According to research from Vitals, the shorter the wait time in a doctor’s office, the higher their online reviews and ratings are, and 84% of customers believe that wait times are important to their overall experience at a doctor’s office.

QLess helps create a more convenient, quick, and comfortable wait, which will significantly impact patient loyalty.

Empower the Mobile-Driven Customer With a Patient Queue Management System

The average customer healthcare organizations interact with today is different from their previous typical customer. That is because more customers than ever are now embracing digital solutions. The popularity of smartphones and mobile devices has surged to the point that they are now ubiquitous. Digitization has become popular for every industry. Customers now emphasize technology as a core part of their experience, and businesses can improve interactions with patients by implementing more technology into their patient journey.

Customers' reliance on digital technology isn’t limited to your youngest customers. It is now people of all ages are incredibly reliant on mobile and digital technology for everything from communication to organization. According to the Pew Research Center, "61% of seniors (age 65+) now own a smartphone, which is rapid growth from the 13% of seniors that owned a smartphone in 2012. For ages 18-29 and 30-49, that number is 96% and 95%, respectively". Most people own and constantly use smartphones, and many want them to be a part of their healthcare experience.

According to the aforementioned QLess survey, 63.1% of customers prefer to schedule appointments through their phone, either through an app or phone call, compared to in-person or on a website.

Also, 90.7% prefer to receive communications through their phone, either through text messages, phone calls, or a mobile app, rather than email. Customers rely on their phones and want their healthcare offices to accommodate that.

QLess perfectly aligns with the digital and mobile tendencies of the modern customer. Customers can do everything from schedule to wait in line for their appointments, all with just a tap of their digital screen. Rather than emailing customers for appointment reminders and communications, businesses can message them directly through their mobile devices. Customers also receive information on their waiting times from their smartphone devices.

Providing high-quality care to customers is dependent on meeting their standards. Customers of all ages are now heavily invested in their usage of mobile devices and expect businesses to communicate and augment their experience through their smartphone devices. Healthcare organizations would be smart to invest in digitization that meets the demands of the modern mobile-driven patient.

Better Workflow Visibility and Efficiency With Patient Queue Management

Healthcare staff faces a momentous challenge in monitoring customer flow. Front-desk staff is tasked with a difficult job, one that is subject to human error. They have to control a stream of customers, ensure they fill in check-in details correctly, and communicate back and forth with doctors and nurses. It isn’t easy, particularly when the healthcare office faces substantial customer demand. Their job is all the more difficult when customers are irate from long lines or illnesses. Lightening the load of front-desk workers, nurses, and doctors is important, as they have so much on their plate.

The QLess calendar features don’t just help with appointment scheduling. They function as a calendar management system that gives doctors, nurses, and front-desk workers an easier way to manage and oversee their daily schedules.

This patient appointment software will give offices greater visibility and control over their operations, increasing business predictability and allowing offices to adapt to changes on the fly. The calendar feature is a virtual calendar that is color-coded to make it easier to understand at a glance. It shows a daily or monthly appointment calendar and is organized to display important information.

Staff can see the time o different appointments, the types of appointments booked, and the employee servicing them.

This is an easy, efficient way to view your day-to-day, so staff is more aware of what work lies ahead of them.The calendar can also be controlled by staff or automated. It is a flexible system for overseeing appointments and customer flow, allowing businesses to adjust to changes more effectively. If a customer is running late but has notified staff, they can be moved out of line and put on hold so that the flow isn’t disrupted and the customer still gets an appointment. If a customer doesn’t show up within an allotted time, they can simply be moved out of the virtual line without stalling the line too dramatically.

QLess makes controlling and automating a complicated hospital queue and appointment schedule far easier. It increases the visibility of staff schedules, ensuring they are prepared for appointments and aware of what’s next throughout the day. It also makes organizations more efficient by ensuring they have a flexible calendar that can be manually or automatically managed.

Collect Objective and Subjective Patient Experience Data

A patient queue management system streamlines the experience your customers have while waiting for care, but this queuing solution also helps in another critical area. It serves as a tool that allows enterprises to collect objective and subjective information from their customers. This is done with two powerful features, the business intelligence features, and the customer feedback feature. Together, they provide healthcare offices with greater clarity into how they perform and what they need to change.

The QLess business intelligence software is a feature that collects objective data from your customers. Because patients are using QLess to check in and wait for their appointments, the software can collect important data from customers and report it to organizations.

QLess collects data like the median wait time, transaction time, number of customers served in a day, and the appointment no-show percentage. That data is reported in charts and graphs that can be filtered according to different criteria. With this information, healthcare organizations can see what areas of their business might be due for improvement. If there are substantial wait times at certain times of day, adding staff or changing processes to adjust might be necessary. If your appointment no-show percentage has spiked, implementing more reminders on the dates leading up to appointments can solve this problem.

According to Finances Online, "64% of users have reported that business intelligence improved their efficiency and productivity."

With the QLess patient experience data, healthcare offices can better understand a crucial aspect of their operation. Meanwhile, the customer feedback feature allows businesses to solicit and store subjective data.

Knowing how your customers perceive your healthcare office is extremely important. With the QLess customer feedback features, businesses can send automated SMS pulse survey requests to customers immediately after their appointments. These requests can include an embedded survey with questions to customers that offices want to know more about. If you see consistent customer complaints about one aspect of your business, that is highly valuable information. Better understanding the patient journey requires consistent reevaluation and tweaking of processes. If patients complain that something isn’t working for them, understanding that is the first step toward making improvements.

QLess allows healthcare offices to collect objective and subjective information on their processes. Knowing your organization’s strengths and weaknesses will allow offices to identify what needs to change.

person using MacBook Pro

Key Takeaways On a Patient Queue Management System

The waiting experience is something no customer enjoys, but it is considered an inevitable part of business. In the healthcare industry, waits tend to be long, which can be dangerous due to the nature of the industry. Many organizations seek a way to cut patient wait times and ensure the experience is less risky and more comfortable.

A patient queue management system is a way to do this. A patient queue management system is an impactful solution that ensures a more positive patient experience while improving efficiency and communication. With remote check-in and a virtual queue management system, customers can wait in line for their appointments without ever needing to enter the business. Their virtual visit will be improved with efficient communication features showcasing the actual wait times, so they can enter the business only when needed.

Healthcare offices deal with ailing patients, many of whom may be contagious. Limiting crowds and congestion is an effective way to maximize customers’ comfort and minimize the risk of contagion. This will help healthcare offices stand out as a more patient-friendly option, driving customer loyalty.