Reducing Patient Waiting Times: How Patient Wait Times Affect Your Bottom Line

wall clock in a hospital - patient waiting times

One of the most difficult tasks for a medical practice is decreasing patient waiting times.

Caring for every patient with the punctuality they expect takes a lot of work, and inevitably, the combination of packed schedules, longer-than-expected appointments, and walk-in patients are going to lead to delays. The key, then, is to limit those lag times as much as possible–and to ensure patients are cared for as they wait.

Everyone working in the medical field knows reducing long waiting times is important. But just how crucial is it to the financial well-being of your office? Let’s take a look at how patient wait times – and the levels of satisfaction they create – impact medical facilities.

According to a recent Press Ganey whitepaper, there’s a strong link between patient satisfaction and an office’s volume of patients. Press Ganey found this connection by looking at its clients’ patient satisfaction surveys, then viewing the changes that took place.

The results were definitive: Hospitals with patient satisfaction rates in the 90th percentile saw nearly a 33 percent increase in patient volume, while hospitals with patient satisfaction rates in the bottom 10th percentile saw a volume decrease of about 17 percent.


There are a number of factors that impact patient waiting time.

Let’s examine them below.

People like to talk about their negative experiences. A lot. 

According to Press Ganey’s research, “a dissatisfied patient tells up to 25 others about a negative experience… Reputations are built over time as word of mouth spreads through a community.”

Patients who wait longer are less likely to visit again in the future.

Simply put, if someone arrives at your office and spends a lot of time waiting to be treated in the reception area and examination room, they’re going to have a good reason to find another practice in the future. And dissatisfied patients who don’t discuss their negative experiences are still likely to seek treatment elsewhere.

Shortening patient waiting times influences how people feel about their doctors. 

Per a study conducted by Vitals, a healthcare consumer engagement group, there’s a strong correlation between wait times and doctor ratings. Vitals found that physicians who garnered five-star ratings made their patients wait 12 minutes, on average. Those with one-star ratings, on the other hand, had an average wait time of 33 minutes.

Together, these issues greatly affect the bottom line. 

Press Galey’s research found that it is 10 times more expensive to attract new patients than it is to retain your current ones. So if your office is experiencing a lot of patient turnover, it’s going to be hard to reach your financial goals.


So, how can QLess reduce patient wait times?

If your office finds reducing long waiting times to be difficult, there are ways to change the patient’s perception of the time leading up to their treatment.

According to analysis and research compiled by the Medical Group Strategy Council, 60 percent of patients said free Wi-Fi in the waiting room would completely or at least somewhat eliminate the frustration of waiting. 64 percent said a TV in the waiting room would eliminate frustration, and 70 percent said a personal apology from the provider would help.

The most effective way to alter how a patient views wait times, however, is to provide your patients with their wait time in advance: 80 percent of those surveyed said this method would completely or somewhat eliminate the frustration of the time spent in the waiting room.

The best way to provide patients with their wait time is to use a queue management system. At QLess, our healthcare queue management system can help keep your lobby from becoming overcrowded and ensure your patients are satisfied with their visit. It can also decrease operating costs, enhance staff productivity, boost revenue, and, in turn, strengthen your practice’s reputation.

Our research demonstrates that smoother customer flow increases satisfaction by 20 percent. How? By notifying patients of delays through text messages, your staff can proactively control patient expectations and reduce frustrations. Moreover, our analytics and reporting tools provide your office with insightful data about your patients, how they felt about their visit, and how well your staff is performing.

Indeed, decreasing patient waiting times can revolutionize your practice’s workflow.

Using QLess, patients can wait where they want to wait instead of in a congested reception area. It begins when your patients join a virtual queue via your website, a mobile app, or an on-site kiosk in your office. Your patients receive an expected wait time, and as they move closer to their appointment time, they’ll receive timely updates and notifications about their progress.

The QLess solution takes walk-in patients into consideration, too, as FlexAppointments seamlessly integrates your existing appointments with walk-ins. This will help reduce scheduling gaps when patients cancel an appointment and allow walk-in patients to be treated in an efficient manner. With an easy-to-use appointment scheduling solution, our software can start reducing patient waiting times immediately.


To learn more about QLess and how our products reduce patient waiting times, request a demo for your medical organization today.


Also read:  Shortening Waiting Times: Six Principles for Improved Access