How Physicians Can Reduce Patient Wait Times

Anna Webster, for HealthLeaders Media , December 1, 2010

For example, group clinics can address multiple patient needs at a single time by a single provider. Diabetes patients often endure many of the same issues and can share experiences and questions through these group clinics, says Goertz. Using this method of care delivery, patients can still get physician face time, and the physician can cut down on repetitive appointments. 

Cultural shift
Many established practices are already at capacity when it comes to accepting new patients. Thus, newly insured patients may have limited access to physicians or will need to turn to younger physicians.

As the primary care demand increases, Goertz expects younger, newly established doctors to answer the call—even though many are choosing areas other than primary care to practice. "I am an underlying believer in medical students and trainees responding to this cultural shift," he says.

HealthTexas Provider Network's goal is to expand with 30–40 new primary care physicians per year, says Winters, adding that it is finding there are fewer primary care doctors. The lure of a specialty practice with a narrowed variety of problems is appealing to new physicians, he says.

In addition, the new healthcare delivery model will focus more on communications technology. 

High-speed Internet access and mobile devices enable doctors to look up facts without having to run down the hall to hit the books. EHRs also allow more patient-physician face time because less time is spent coordinating treatments, Goertz says.

Open-access scheduling is another tool physicians are considering to cut down on their wait times. If implemented correctly, this can be a powerful tool. Practices shouldn't be daunted by blank appointment spaces if they can be filled at the right rate during the day. The process involves monitoring the number of last-minute appointments within a clinic. If there appears to be a trend, setting aside extra time during the day can reduce patient wait times.

 No patient wants to wait until their doctor is ready—they want their doctors ready and waiting for them.

See Also:
The Physician's Place in the ACO

Using the Web to curb waiting-room times

NP Back Pain Assessment Shortens Wait Time

3 Reasons to Market Your ED Wait Times

Anna Webster, Online Content Coordinator for HealthLeaders Media, can be reached at

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2 comments on "How Physicians Can Reduce Patient Wait Times"

Yasser (8/2/2012 at 12:34 AM)
In OPD you need to run the clinics by units not by one or two physicians only , it means that the whole unit on call will cover the OPD starting from interns through GPs to consultants , this needs 3 or 4 clinics for the unit of medicine for one consultant and the same will be applied for all units in all departments, this will cover all patients in the same day without appointment .

tyco brahe (12/2/2010 at 1:53 PM)
Interesting how we blame Canada for such long patient wait times, when this analysis shows that, under our current system, wait times in the US to see a doctor are LONG! The average wait time in Canada is 3 weeks. Seems like it's the same or even longer here in the US.




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