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The CEO of Urgent Care Association (UCA,) Lou Ellen Horwitz, recently spoke to survey results explaining why patients leave without being seen (LWBS.) A whopping 64 percent of respondents ranked wait time as their number one reason to leave — with insurance issues tailing at number two with 46 percent. Service not offered, cost of care, and ED referral complete the list.

How long seems too long? The UCA results show that the median documented time for LWBS is 31-60 minutes for 53 percent of respondents, and 61-90 minutes for 34 percent. Just twelve percent reported less than 30 minutes, and one percent waited over 90 minutes. Which is pretty average for urgent care, right?

The good news is that you can take steps to not only reduce wait time, but also reduce LWBS numbers even when wait time is unavoidably high. We’ll explain how, and provide some advice for what to do about insurance issues.


How Patient Engagement Technology Reduces LWBS Patients

We’ve spoken about wait psychology a lot in our resources, but here’s the gist:

It’s less about the duration of the wait and more about the experience of the duration. Perception is key to this experience, which means if patients have an accurate expectation of how long the wait will be, and especially if they can access real-time updates to the wait, they are more likely to continue to wait AND report a positive patient experience.

So you not only want to minimize the amount of time spent waiting, you want to make that wait bearable and transparent for patients.

How the Tech Accomplishes Both

Experity intentionally built our PE solution to reduce the amount of time spent in the waiting room. Electronic registration lets patients enter their own information ahead of the visit — which not only allows staff to get patients seen more quickly (because they have less to cover when they arrive at the clinic,) but also improves the accuracy of things like spelling and insurance details. That extends to cleaner claims as well.

Our data shows that preregistration saves staff an average of four minutes per patient. While that does not seem like much alone, if you see 60 patients a day, that’s 240 extra minutes, which not only allows for about five more patients a day when it’s busy, but also helps you maintain throughput when your staff resources are strained.

On top of minimizing the actual wait, Experity’s PE solution has several features that help patients experience an easier wait time, reduce abandoned appointments, and improve the patient experience. An overview of features includes:

  • A dynamic online reservation platform built for on-demand care
  • Allows for the clinic to have a “virtual waiting room”
  • Clinics can have separate queues or “lines” for standard Urgent Care visits or other services, i.e. flu shot, OccMed/WorkComp, etc. The wait-time algorithm updates and accounts for walk-in and scheduled appointments
  • Walk-in patients can “get in line” at any time and have transparency into how long their wait will be
  • Patients have the option to leave and come back when it’s time to be seen by the provider
  • Reporting functionality that provides clinics insight into clinic bottlenecks


What Does That Mean? A Quick Patient Journey

How do these features translate to fewer LWBS patients? Let’s take a quick walk through the patient journey using our PE solution.

  1. Patient goes to client’s website and makes online reservation for the time they want to be seen. Preregistration provides vital information to the clinic and reduces steps once patients arrive at the clinic. The reservation allows patients to shift away from a “wait time” mentality while comfortable at home and spend minimal time in the parking lot or waiting room.
  2. Patient will receive a text message confirming their reservation time. They will also receive a reminder text when it’s time to come in, and a text if the clinic is running behind/delayed. This not only reduces abandoned appointments, but also helps set expectations for a better patient experience.
  3. Once in clinic, the patient can check in with the front desk or from a Check-in Kiosk and wait to be seen. There will be a Wait Room Monitor in the lobby that displays the patients’ first names in the queue, and time to be called back. Seeing in real time when they are going to be seen makes it MUCH easier to endure a wait than having no visibility into how soon you can expect your turn.
  4. Staff calls back patient, completes normal visit process, and discharges patient. If the client is utilizing our survey product, the patient will receive a survey text after discharge. (Our solution also has robust reputation management functionality.)

Compare that experience to what your patients go through at your clinic. Are your patients getting updates and feeling in control of their visit?

Summary of Experity PE Benefits

Overall, if wait time is making a big impact on your LWBS, Experity has you covered from start to finish. Our differentiating features benefit your clinic in multiple ways:

  • Patients have the option to easily schedule their visit from home, car, and/or at their own convenience before arriving at the clinic, reducing perceived wait time
  • Helpful text reminders and alerts on when to arrive at the clinic reduce abandonment rates and improve patient experience
  • Clinics can load-balance patients at high-volume clinics, directing them to their other locations with lower wait-times — this can also allow patients to see the wait-times at different clinic locations to have more control over when they are seen
  • Load balancing, online reservations, and smart queues help even out unpredictable, long, or unmanageable wait-times

Learn more about the features that can set your clinic apart from your competitors.

See What Differentiates a PE Tool Built for Urgent Care

Wait, What About Insurance? How do I Reduce LWBS?

If the patients know before being seen that they aren’t covered by insurance, we’d like to assume that clinics are using a Real Time Eligibility (RTE) feature in their EMR/PM like the one Experity offers. However, one of the biggest missteps we see here is that even though staff uses RTE, they aren’t trained to interpret it and take action.

If RTE (or Real Time verification — RTV) reveals that the patient is not covered, what are your next steps? Do you have a process in place to double check all the information? For example, patient insurance can come back as inactive, but when checking the payer site, it is active. Also, are you able to offer a payment plan so the patient doesn’t have to abandon the appointment?

We have a blog that provides some guidance on check-in procedures along with a PDF checklist for front desk staff to help them avoid missing steps and making mistakes.

Read the Blog

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