A recent survey showed that waiting too long to see a doctor is still the most common cause for complaint in health care practices. Patients were asked to identify their biggest pet peeve when seeking medical care.
Among the 500 patients surveyed, 72% chose excessive wait time at an office prior to an appointment as their primary complaint. How can providers remedy this situation? The study participants had several suggestions. They said they appreciate an advanced phone call before the appointment, if the wait time is anticipated. They also identified the helpfulness of office staff checking in with them during the wait to inform them what is going on. Another practice that can alleviate the irritation of a wait time was revealed as: "Offer me a drink after I've been waiting fifteen minutes."
The patient satisfaction survey also found that 41% of patients with insurance were frustrated when upfront information about the full cost of care was not provided. Clearly, patients do not like surprise costs for their health care visits.
About 19% of respondents said they would like to feel remembered by the medical office staff, particularly when they are frequent visitors.
In identifying areas that the patients would value an extra effort, more than a quarter said they would like to be able to reach the doctor after hours. Several participants also said they would appreciate a print-out with information about the day's visit to take home, including what was discussed and suggested patient actions.
The researchers of this study concluded that health-care professionals who wish to stand out and give exceptional patient experiences should take action in addressing patient complaints. They should provide outward signs that something is being done to improve a problem, especially when it comes to long appointment wait times.
Nelson S. Patients' pet peeves survey results. NPress Feb 11, 2010. http://www.prlog.org/10529537-npress-reveals-patients-pet-peeves-survey-results.html.