Reducing wait times: Good ways and bad ways

Reducing wait times: Good ways and bad ways

Baltimore Business Journal has an article on how doctors are reducing wait times. From my perspective, some are good, some are bad.

The good ones:

  • Using technology and workflow redesign to check patients in electronically, document their visits in real time, and keep them moving through the process
  • Adding on-line communications services so patients and physicians can communicate without having to be together physically or using the phone

The bad ones:

  • Converting from a 3,500 patient practice to a 600 patient boutique. May help that doc’s practice, but there will now be another 2,900 patients clogging others’ offices
  • Putting patients in charge of dealing with insurance companies. Dr. Cymet’s “patients have expressed some confusion as to why they are doing the administrative work that a doctor’s staff would typically do, but it’s outweighed by the promise to spend more time with the patient, [Cymet] said.” That’s confusing to me, too. Is the doc bartering his time for administrative services? Why does the doc have more time for his patients when his administrator is less burdened?

The article focuses on the usual complaint that reimbursement levels are dropping while costs are rising –a debatable point. But there’s another reason physicians need to improve wait times: they risk losing patients to in-store MinuteClinics and the like.

August 14, 2006

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