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How does a practice remedy a long waiting time for patients? First, you must be concerned and communicate it to the staff. Physicians should watch or “visit” the reception area periodically to see if there is a “crowd.” Look at the patient’s scheduled time and monitor this regularly. Of course, the physician also should get to the office a little early and be ready to see the first patient when he/she is ready.
Practice Management Issues By Frank J. Weinstock, MD, FACS
Patients are people-they usually are not confrontational and do not like to complain to authority (the physician or office manager). Before they decide to go elsewhere for their eye care, they will more than likely complain to friends and family. Their usual comment is “Dr. X is a wonderful ophthalmologist, but I hate to go to his/her office.”
Patients arrive to the office on time and have to wait 1 to 2 hours before they are called back to the exam lanes. Routinely, when patients inquire about how long they will have to wait, the stock answer from the staff is: “The doctor will be with you shortly.”
In the past year, I have had a number of medical visits when I was taken back before my scheduled time or within 5 minutes. This is a reasonable time and shows that seeing the patients on or near the scheduled time is possible.
How does a practice remedy the long waiting time? First, you must be concerned and communicate it to the staff. Physicians should watch or “visit” the reception area periodically to see if there is a “crowd.” Look at the patient’s scheduled time and monitor this regularly. Of course, the physician also should get to the office a little early and be ready to see the first patient when he/she is ready.
It is also important to communicate to the staff (by words and actions) that you would like to be on time. If the physician does his/her part, the staff will make it happen.
If the physician is late, he/she should apologize to the patient. If the physician is sincere, patients will usually accept this. The physicians also should make a note to be sure to see this patient on time with the next visit.
Recognizing that the physician and staff do much testing and have several appointments at the same time, there is always a little waiting after the patient is brought into the exam lane. Patients appreciate that the staff is concerned with their time (which is as valuable as the staff). It is important to show the patients that both the physician and staff care.
Frank J. Weinstock, MD, FACS, is professor of ophthalmology, Northeast Ohio Medical University, Rootstown, OH. He is also affiliate clinical professor in the Charles E. Schmidt College of Biomedical Science at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL, and volunteer professor of ophthalmology, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. For more information, visit his website: www.drfrankweinstock.com. Readers may contact Dr. Weinstock via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org