Optometric Management Tip # 96   -   Wednesday, November 19, 2003
How long do your patients have to wait?

When your patients evaluate their experience at your office, the time they spend waiting is a huge factor... and it's one that you actually have control over.

Granted that health care today has become so lax in the "customer service" aspects that waiting in the reception area for 20 minutes is considered normal. And then there is often another 20-minute wait after the patient is called into the exam area! But just because most doctors do this, and patients don't complain much, is no reason to allow it to be the norm in your office. Quite the contrary, if you can stay on time for appointments 90% of the time, you will stand out as a shining example in a sea of mediocrity. Your practice will instantly be elevated as a great place to go for eye care. Becoming an "on time practice" is good for patient relations, and it reduces stress on your staff.

How do we define being "on time"? To me, it depends on when the patient is called in from the reception area (assuming that some testing begins right away). This makes being on time easier for a practice that delegates pre-testing. For my office to be "on time", I don't have to be available at the appointed time, but one of my technicians does.

There are several factors to consider as you analyze your practice scheduling: In upcoming issues of this MTOTW, I'll look at how to handle the early or late arriver, and how to handle no shows.
Best wishes for continued success,

Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Chief Optometric Editor, Optometric Management