Using virtual waiting rooms for appointments is becoming a common practice. But are you making the most of it?
Posted in Practice Resources on Tuesday, August 10, 2021
The pandemic brought us quickly to a surge in telemedicine. Although the use of telemedicine is decreasing somewhat as regulations change and vaccines become more common, all signs point to the fact that telemedicine is here to stay. And that means that virtual waiting rooms are here for the long haul as well. Whether you’re in-person or virtual, one thing remains constant: patient expectations. With that in mind, it’s important to consider how well your virtual waiting room functions.
Track Wait Times
As we all know from our own personal experiences, it's hard to know if you'll be seen on-time when you arrive at an in-person appointment. But when you're on the other side of the experience, it’s recommended that you track how well your scheduling and the appointment times align with each other. Making your patients wait longer than 30 minutes will almost certainly affect patient satisfaction; if you find appointments running that late, it's essential that they know what the circumstances are.
Keep an Eye On Virtual Waits
Just because appointments are virtual doesn't mean the wait time guidelines are any different. Continue to track the span of time from check-in to the actual visit and keep the patient engaged while they are experiencing down time. Keep your own personal experiences in mind - since the pandemic started, we have all experienced the anxiousness of being in an empty Zoom meeting, wondering if we are in the right place at the right time.
Assess Missed Appointments
Another problem area can be no-shows and missed appointments. You no doubt sent your patients reminders for in-person visits. Virtual appointments should be treated the same. Any no-shows or missed virtual visits should be documented the same as an in-person visit. You should take special care to note if any technical issues or concerns cause missed appointments. Audit your no-show/missed virtual appointments so you can determine how you can solve the problems that seem to continually crop up.
Bust Boredom with Education
Don't leave your patients hanging. Consider using slides to communicate patient expectations, information about your practice or even fun facts. A practice in Florida even used their online waiting room as an opportunity to provide educational videos.