One of our favorite topics on the Dental Warranty blog is "exceeding patient expectations," because that's the best way to build loyal patients who return and refer. Among other places, patient happiness either thrives or dies an agonizing death in the waiting room!
To get a better understanding of of patient wait times and what you can do about them, we recently interviewed Melissa McCormack, a dental analyst at Software Advice, about research she compiled after surveying 5,003 U.S. patients to determine what would lessen their irritation with medical and dental wait times.
Q: So as a practice, do we have some improvements to make?
Well, 97% of the patients we surveyed say they are frustrated with their wait times, if that gives you an idea!
Q: Just how long are patients having to wait? What's the average patient wait time in the U.S.?
A: The national average is 20 minutes, although among those we surveyed, 45% spend less than 15 minutes in the waiting room, and 85% are seen within 30 minutes. Unfortunately, 15% are waiting for 30 to 60 minutes or longer.
Q: What's the simplest way to prevent patient wait time frustration?
A: It was interesting to learn that free, easy-to-implement tactics for reducing patient frustration are also the most effective. For example, if told in advance how long their waiting room stay was likely to be, 80% of patients would be less frustrated. And annoyance would decrease for 70% of patients if their doctor simply offered an apology for the wait.
Q: What else can practices change in their wait room to prevent frustration?
Here are two ideas... 64% of patients surveyed said their waiting room experience could be improved if there was a TV, and 60% reported that complimentary WiFi would help, as would free food and beverages.
Q: We heard that you asked patients if they would ever pay an extra fee for a "fast-pass" to avoid wait time?
We did! I don't think it will happen anytime soon, because only 22% of patients we surveyed said they would be willing to pay a small fee to see the doctor more quickly. Patients expect great service, and don't want to pay extra!
To see the full patient wait time report at Software Advice, click here.
For more information about Dental Warranty and how a warranty program enables you to exceed patient expectations, click here.