As a patient, there’s nothing worse than showing up on time for an appointment only to sit around in a waiting room reading Highlights magazine. It’s incredibly frustrating for patients, who’ve booked a babysitter and reorganized their meeting schedule to feel like clinicians don’t value their time. But chances are, a clinic’s appointment schedule will get backed up.
When delays are unavoidable, clinics shouldn’t make patients stay in the purgatory of the waiting room. Staff members could text patients to let them know the office is running late and that they should come in 15 minutes or 30 minutes later. Tied to the EMR, clinics could keep track of who’s being seen, when they’re being seen, and how far behind the next appointment is, so patients can run an errand instead of waiting around. That way, patients can come in closer to the time they’re actually going to be seen by a physician—or let them escape the waiting room and return at a designated time if they’ve already arrived.