I had never heard of ‘Queing Psychologists’ until I read Software Advice‘s Contributor, David Fried’s interesting article, “Lessons from Waiting Rooms“. It’s no surprise that we humans don’t like waiting, but did you know that there is some research advising healthcare leaders as well as anyone involved in customer service that we are more concerned about the peception of waiting than the actual time spent waiting. In Fried’s article, he cites research performed at MIT that concluded, “Consumers consider waiting as inactive, wasted or lost opportunity time… Therefore, to attain higher levels of customer satisfaction firms should focus on making customers feel that they are wasting as little time as possible.”
There is a great list of industry examples for addressing wait time and you can learn more about associated cost and some insights about relevance to the world of healthcare!
- WiFi at cafe’s
- Coloring books for kids at restaurants
- Free coffee at hair salons
- Shopping options at airports
So how does this translate into the world of healthcare? Is waiting when you are stressed or sick different and if so how?
In healthcare settings, we know there is always some unpredictability. A doctor who is held up at the hospital for an emergency or time required to to teach a patient about a new medicine, obtain a detailed history of a problem, or coax a child into being still while having blood drawn may vary considerably. On the other hand, having enough staff to meed the needs of a busy medical office, at least most of the time should be somewhat predictable over time.
I don’t know about you, but I simply want my time to be respected. I can understand some wait time, especially if an airplane needs to be serviced or someone is having an acute medical problem. Please, please, please don’t try to distract me or make me feel anything. Ask me what I’d like or need to utilize my time in a way that works for me, create choices that honor a variety of preferences so that I can choose how to spend my waiting time, be honest about expected wait time and do your best to minimize time that I have to spend waiting are ideas that sound good to me. Also, I’ll be patient about you taking your time with others if I trust you’ll take your time with me. And keep the waiting area clean!
A newspaper, cup of good i.e. fresh coffee, or a quiet place where I can meditate, read, or write are things that I would find helpful in many situations. If I’m sick, I just want things done as quick as possible.
What would you like to see happen in waiting areas in healthcare?