Practice Metrics

How Long Do You Keep Patients Waiting in Your Reception Area?

Most patients can expect at least a small wait when arriving for an appointment with their eye doctor, according to Jobson Optical Research’s Waiting Game report. Some 32.1 percent say they typically wait 10 to 15 minutes for their appointment to begin while 21.4 percent typically wait 15 to 30 minutes. Some 26.8 percent usually wait five to 10 minutes and 8.5 percent usually wait less than five minutes while 7.3 percent most often wait more than 30 minutes. Some 3.9 percent typically wait more than an hour for their appointment to begin.
We know from studies conducted in service industries, that satisfaction with waiting parallels general service satisfaction. In fact, for patients concerned about time, the perception of time spent waiting predicts satisfaction levels better than the actual waiting time itself.
Other studies give us great insight into the psychology of waiting. Here are 10 concepts you should know about waiting starting with Maister’s (1985) eight “propositions”:

1. Unoccupied time feels longer than occupied time
2. Pre-process waits feel longer than in-process waits
3. Anxiety makes waits feel longer
4. Uncertain waits seem longer than certain waits
5. Unexplained waits seem longer than explained waits
6. Unfair waits seem longer than equitable waits
7. The more valuable the service, the longer people will wait
8. Solo waiting feels longer than group waiting
9. Uncomfortable waits feel longer than comfortable waits (Davis and Heineke, 1998)
10. New or infrequent patients feel they wait longer than frequent patients (Jones and Peppiatt, 1996)

What’s our action plan this week? Use this list in an office meeting to make sure the practice is managing all 10 concepts. The more of these you manage effectively, the better the overall patient satisfaction with your general service.

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