It's no secret that patients hate long waits in your optical practice. Every practice has seen a patient become frustrated when they feel their time is being wasted. Since patients are the number one priority in your practice, we thought we'd spend today discussing some things you can do to reduce patient wait times in your office. The shorter the wait time, the happier your patients will be!
Reduce Patient Wait Time in Your Optical Practice with These Strategies
Put Your Patient Portal to Good Use
Patient portals were created to provide better care for your patients, so if you're invested in providing the best patient care possible you should be taking advantage of a patient portal. One of the best ways to use your patient portal is to allow your patients to fill out any necessary pre-appointment paperwork prior to coming into your office. For new patients, you can email them a link to set up their portal and fill out their forms as soon as they make their appointment with your practice. The more paperwork they complete ahead of time, the less time they'll be wasting in the waiting room!
Utilize Your Tech
We've mentioned in the past that there are certain roles your tech can take over, saving the OD some time. Not only does having your tech take on more reponsibility save the doctor time, but it saves your patients time as well. Your tech can take down the chief complaint, collect any additional patient history that the OD might need, and get the patient started with pre-testing. Then your tech can relay that information to the doctor. This saves the patient from having to repeat themselves, and helps ensure the OD can get on with the exam quickly.
Have a Policy
Dealing with late and no-show patients isn't just a stress on your staff, but it's a burden to the other patients in your office that actually do show up on time. If you don't already have a policy in place for late or no show patients, you might want to consider it. Make patients reschedule an appointment if they are more than 15 minutes late. Or, charge a fee if patients never show or cancel last minute. You can also use positive incentives to reward patients that are on time, like holding a monthly drawing for on-time patients. Create a policy that works for your workflow and your practice, and implement it! Make sure the policy is known to your patients when they make their appointments so no one is blind-sided.
Use Patient Feedback
The best way to better serve your patients is to get feedback directly from them. Try handing out a simple survey when a patient arrives at your office with space to fill out the time of their arrival, the time they begin their pre-exam with the tech, the time the OD arrives, the time they are greeted by the optician in the dispensary, and the time they leave your office. This way you can see exactly where your workflow might be suffering, and your patients are left waiting.
If your waiting room is out of date, stuffy, or uncomfortable, any amount of wait is going to seem too long in your patients' eyes. If you've done everything you can to decrease wait time, and are still struggling, try increasing the comfort level of your waiting room; this will make time go by quicker for your patients. Comfortable seating in your waiting room is a must. You might consider offering complimentary beverages, utilizing TVs, and can even offer free Wi-Fi for your patients while they wait.
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