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.
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.
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:
How do these features translate to fewer LWBS patients? Let’s take a quick walk through the patient journey using our PE solution.
Compare that experience to what your patients go through at your clinic. Are your patients getting updates and feeling in control of their visit?
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:
Learn more about the features that can set your clinic apart from your competitors.
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.