The Waiting Game: How to Think About Waiting Rooms in the Urgent Care Setting

April 22-26 is patient experience week, where healthcare staff members are recognized for the impact they have on providing patients with an encounter that is above expectations. All over the world, there are providers and healthcare staff members who go above and beyond to make sure patients are not only taken care of but are given an experience that is positive and will be remembered.

Urgent care centers have become the focal point of the patient experience, as patients desire care that is convenient and prioritizes efficiency. One of the biggest obstacles to overcome in the urgent care realm is the waiting room. Time and time again staff members are faced with helping patients as they wait to see a provider, and this in-between time is important to the patient. Studies show that patient satisfaction is heavily impacted by the time spent in the waiting room, as patients are anxious to see the doctor, but maybe don’t understand why they have to wait.

Here we wanted to provide some insight into making your waiting room the best it can be so that you, too, can provide extraordinary patient experiences.

Offer Online Registration

One of the keys to making sure wait times are minimal is implementing an online registration tool. One of the biggest hold-ups, when a patient walks through the door, is getting them registered and having the front office staff input information several times.

By implementing an online registration tool, you will be able to dramatically reduce the time patients spend in the waiting room. An online registration tool will allow patients to register while at home or in the clinic, so their time in the waiting room will be minimized while also increasing patient satisfaction. With a system that allows patients to do all registration themselves, it will cut back on data entry for office staff and reduce human errors, providing a seamless flow of data.

Communicate with Patients

Another complaint amongst patients is not knowing how long they will have to wait. Most patients expect a certain amount of wait time at an urgent care center, but waiting for an extended amount of time can drive down patient satisfaction. Research has shown that patients evaluate urgent care centers based on things they are familiar with, such as the time it takes to see their doctor, because patients sometimes don’t know how to evaluate a doctor based on skills alone.

Whether you are right on schedule or a little behind, communicating with patients about how long they will have to wait to see a provider will help alleviate some of the anxiety. Whether it is having a board showing patients in line ahead of them or verbally updating them, communicating the approximate wait time will help patients get through the waiting period and feel more at ease, ultimately helping boost patient satisfaction.

Make Your Waiting Room Welcoming

Even though you may not see it as a great opportunity for impacting the patient experience, creating an environment where a patient feels welcome will help provide a better experience while waiting.  

A lot of urgent care centers have the typical setup but go above and beyond with comfortable seating and even a refreshment bar for the patients, serving coffee and water. These are simple gestures that could lead to lifelong loyalty of patients, contributing to an amazing experience.

Whether you are looking to enhance your center or thinking about starting urgent care from the ground up, Urgent Care Consultants can help you reach patients and provide an excellent experience.

 

This resource was first published prior to the 2019 merger between DocuTAP and Practice Velocity. The content reflects our legacy brands.