With patients having more choices of healthcare providers—and settings—than ever before, understanding what drives them to a given location can mean the difference between success and going out of business. In fact, one out of five patient participants in Vitals’ ninth annual Physician Wait Time Report say they’ve switched physicians specifically because of long wait times. Even more (30%) have walked out on an appointment because they were made to wait too long. The cost is far greater than losing that one patient visit, however; Vitals found there’s a direct correlation between the amount of time a patient waits and the “star rating” they’re likely to give a practice. In this world of Yelp! and other online report cards, the sound of patients walking out can equate to a death knell for your practice. All told, 84% of patients said wait time is either “somewhat important” or “very important” to their overall experience with a practice. Physicians who received a five-star rating on Vitals’ own website had average wait times of 13 minute, 17 seconds; doctors who made patients wait an average of 34 minutes, 11 seconds received a one-star rating. The report breaks down these metadata by specialty, as well; the lower end of the spectrum in primary care is in the 14-range, with 27+ minutes being the ceiling.
Long Wait Times Turn Patients into Former Patients