Average time patients spend waiting to see a health-care provider is 22 minutes

The average time patients spend waiting to see a health-care provider is 22 minutes. Orthopedists have the longest waits, at 29 minutes; dermatologists the shortest, at 20.

Patient satisfaction dropped significantly with each 5 minutes of waiting time. Even the term "waiting room" has a bad connotation. Many offices prefer "reception area" instead.

"I live my life in seven-minute intervals," says Laurie Green, a obstetrician-gynecologist in San Francisco who delivers 400 to 500 babies a year and says she needs to bring in $70 every 15 minutes just to meet her office overhead.

Measures the health-care industry is trying to minimize waiting time include:

- "Open-access" scheduling
- Minimize office visits
- Advance preparation
- Huddling up: "Mr. Jones is in a 15-minute slot, but we know he's a 45-minute guy"
- Teamwork
- Cutting "cycle time"
- Keep patients informed
- Survey patients

References:

The Doctor Will See You Eventually. WSJ.
Patients directed to online tools don't necessarily use them: 25% checked website vs. 42% read same material on paper. Am Medical News, 2012.
Image source: OpenClipArt.org, public domain.

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