Every week, patients share feedback on their experience in radiology. That feedback generally falls into three categories: wait time, communication, and courtesy. Of these, wait time is a frequent “dissatisfer” and has been an obstacle in our pursuit of Service Excellence. This is so, partly because of the delicate balancing act between referrers, scheduling, and clinic operations. Another possible cause could be that we are not yet well versed in patient expectations or perceptions.
Press Ganey and others have estimated that the average wait time for a patient to see a physician in an outpatient clinic is about 22 minutes. Understandably, satisfaction with any service declines as wait time increases. What is not mentioned is whether this window of time holds up from specialty to specialty. Within radiology, wait times vary wildly depending on the type of test, clinic location, and even time of day. Not surprisingly, patient satisfaction rises and falls with these variations. Despite this, our teams have done a good job of minimizing those delays whenever possible. The challenge has become managing patient expectations amidst these varying wait times.
An added challenge is the fact that perceived wait time is sometimes different than actual wait time. For example: For those working from Clifton campus, the wait time for a Cliff shuttle seems a bit longer now than it did in spring, when it was warmer. For some patients, the wait for an exam can seem longer or shorter, for a myriad of reasons. To truly enhance the patient experience, we should be sensitive to patient perceptions and adjust our service efforts accordingly.
As part of a three-month long study, we’ve sought to answer the million-dollar question(s): How do patients perceive their wait time in radiology, what are their expectations and what is the impact on their patient experience? Our study of more than 200 patients will conclude in February, after which we will share our findings in the next RadReport. Stay tuned.
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