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September 29, 2014

Wait times for the doctor: Data points to punctual patients, tardy clinicians

Daily Briefing

When it comes to physician wait times, don't blame patients, Mona Chalabi writes for FiveThirtyEight.

Patients arrived early for their doctors' appointments 90.7% of the time, according to a 2013 study by physicians from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. On average, those who arrived early did so by 24.1 minutes.

Why one health system eliminated waiting rooms

Patients may be on time, but doctors could use some improvement, Chalabi writes. A study published in the American Journal of Managed Care in May found that patients waited an average of 38 minutes—15 of them in the exam room—before being seen.

While waiting may be the norm, doctors could benefit by lowering their average wait times: The Johns Hopkins study found that as wait times increased, patient satisfaction scores went down.

However, perfect punctuality isn't typical. A 2013 study in the European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology found that 37% of people are late to meetings—perhaps a handy statistic for a doctor the next time he or she keeps a patient waiting (Chalabi, FiveThirtyEight, 9/25)

The broader issue: Help your patients escape the patient access maze

For patients, access is a top priority when determining where to go for care. For providers, strong patient access leads to well-coordinated care, increased revenue, expanded market share, and busy providers.


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