Waiting in the doctor’s office is about as entertaining as watching paint dry, but somehow it is never quite as relaxing. All facetiousness aside, few things are more frustrating than sitting in a doctor’s office until the physician is ready to see you. Today, thanks to technology, patients need not spend hours of precious time reading out-of-date magazines in their caregiver’s reception area. Instead, innovative technologies and mobile apps are helping patients take the wait out of the waiting room by allowing them to get in a virtual queue so that they don’t have to waste time in a lobby or line before seeing their health provider. Here’s how these tech tools are working to improve patient care and satisfaction:
Mobile Devices: Today, an app called QLess puts patients on a virtual queue and lets them see at a glance their projected wait time. The program also provides periodic text and voice message updates, which lets health consumers know more precisely when their provider will be ready to see them. As a result, individuals can get a cup of coffee, run errands, or hang around the house until they know their doctor will be available.
Of course, if a patient expects to be delayed, then they can always send their providers an update via the app too. The result: less waiting time for patients; and fewer walkaways, no-shows and empty time slots for health providers.
Physicians are realizing many other benefits from virtual waiting rooms. For instance, in an era of social media and the empowered customer, health providers recognize that consumer satisfaction translates into higher online ratings, which undoubtedly effect the attraction of new clients (and the bottom-line). Furthermore, by offering mobile apps and Internet–based services, many organizations can convert digital users and website visitors into regular in-clinic consumers.
Medicine Going Mobile: Care providers are also using telemedicine carts, mobile medical vans and video conferencing to connect patients with physicians prior to or as an alternative to face-to-face care. Telemedicine – such as virtual consultations via videoconferencing – is gaining traction. An additional trend gaining momentum is wayfinding via digital signage, where hospitals use digital signs – often incorporating video — that help visitors navigate medical facilities.
Digital Kiosks: Digital kiosks are another option health providers are utilizing to help cut down patient wait time. These self-serve video and computer platforms have proven popular in many environments, such as malls. Today, care providers are using them in reception areas, ambulatory settings and even emergency rooms where they are used to facilitate patient check-in, screening and bill collecting.
Virtual waiting platforms help providers optimize workflow, reduce paperwork and improve medical care, all of which leads to better health results and higher patient satisfaction. Further, virtual queuing and telemedicine apps come with another positive side effect: they can provide much useful information on patient behavior, patterns and outcomes. For instance, data analytics gained through health apps can help identify patient preferences, wait-time, caregiver efficiency and many other important metrics.
All in all, virtual waiting rooms are a win-win for both patients and providers alike because they allow everyone to use their time and resources more efficiently. The electronic waiting room may not be a cure for every ill, but it is a technological wonder that is improving the lives of many health consumers.
About Jim Colquhoun
Jim Colquhoun is the Chief Technologist for Avidex. Jim brings an exceptional record of management and operational experience, as well as expertise in the design and integration of communications, AV, and broadcast systems. Jim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org