If Doctors Are Spending Less Time With Patients, Who Are Patients Spending Time With?

2 min read

The question of whether or not doctors spend enough time with patients isn’t a new one. Studies show that the average amount of time a physician spends with a patient has decreased, some citing patient visits as short as 12 minutes and others finding that time with patients is actually overreported by 4 minutes on average. We know where physicians are spending their time: research shows they spend as much time on EHRs and documentation as they do with patients, and the current labor crisis is increasing expectations for patient loads, but…

How are patients spending their time?

Waiting is the obvious answer. There is a reason why wait times are the most common complaint for any healthcare provider. On average patients spend more time (over 18 minutes) in a waiting room than they do with their physician (15 minutes). In fact, as many as 65% of patients have waited longer than an hour to see their doctor. Most providers recognize this as a problem, though many would be surprised to learn that…

Waiting isn’t it. 

Though wait times get a lot of attention, patients actually spend more time on the phone. The average practice takes 3.5 calls per scheduled appointment. Patients often call to discuss symptoms, then again to schedule an appointment, then place yet another call after the appointment to ask questions, before placing a call to schedule a follow up appointment. Our internal data illustrates that the average patient call, regardless of practice type, lasts 6 minutes, that means patients spend an average of 21 minutes interacting with access representatives per appointment…

That’s 40% more time spent on the phone than with physicians.

This sheds light on how much influence patient access has on the patient experience. While there is no doubt the importance of increasing physicians’ time with patients and minimizing time spent in a waiting room, few providers have the ability to remedy this given the current circumstances regarding patient volumes and staffing. The improving the patient access experience, however, is fully within their control. Enhancing call center performance and ensuring that access representatives extend the values of care culture over the phone can offset any negative experiences onsite— particularly when phone interactions sandwich care experiences, as the beginning and end of the patient journey.    

Investing in patient access is investing in the patient experience. 

Envera Health offers fully customized patient access solutions designed around the unique needs of your practice.  Learn how we can assist you in delivering a superior patient access experience that supports greater patient satisfaction and practice growth.