Three Steps to Improved Wait Times

1) Decide to get better.

This is not going to be easy or quick. The problems that lead to excessive wait times are embedded in everything we do. Dedication to the cause is important. This is going to require everyone on the entire team, so everyone needs to be on board. Spend time demonstrating the need and setting expectations.

Perhaps look at some of those bad reviews. They may have some comments about what they’d expect.

2) Measure it.

There are some software programs available that help with patient flow and insights on how patients flow. I don’t know how good any of them are. (If you know of a good one, let me know.)


If you have a tool like this, use it. If you don’t – invent one. All you really need is an “audit” type of measurement only measuring a few, random patient interactions.

3) Do something.

Now that you know where you are going and where you are now, decide on what you will do to make it better.
Look at the expected “flow” or “script” of the entire experience; scheduling, “paperwork,” insurance verification, checking, pre-testing... check-out, payment...

Identify redundancies and bottlenecks.
These are great places to start as they are the most common areas for excessive waits.

Redundancies are anything you ask your patient to do more than once. How many times do you ask, “what brings you in today?” Do you ask for an insurance number to be entered AND for a copy of the card?

Bottlenecks are places in the process that patients have to wait. If the pre-test room is a common bottleneck, it may be time for a second pre-test room or shipping that room for patients who don’t need it or do less testing in there.

Once you implement a change, give it a chance to make a difference. Very often, things get worse before they get better. This is especially true when it is unfamiliar. Keep tweaking, changing, adjusting, until it can’t get any better.