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Thursday, May 23, 2024


How Long Should A Patient On Appointment  Sit In The Waiting Room? (1)


Research has showed that patients hate to keep waiting in the waiting room to see the physician, even when they are on appointment. The quality rating of the hospital in the eyes of the patient drops significantly the longer he is to wait to be attended to. On the other hand, when he finally gets to see the doctor, research has also showed that the patient likes to stay as long as possible once he goes in to see the doctor. So, with the patient, when he is allowed to stay as long as he wants, once he is inside the room of the doctor, that hospital enjoys a high quality rating.

From the perspective of the hospital or the physician himself, his own thoughts are diametrically opposed to that of the patient. If there is a long queue of patients, he wants to quickly dispose of each one. The patient is waiting patiently and once he gets in to see the doctor, before he or she is satisfied that he has been sufficiently listened to, he is hustled out to either go for a test (where he also will be kept waiting) or asked to proceed to the next stage of the attention he is to be given at that facility.

So what does the physician, who wants to enjoy high quality rating with his target market do, in view of the dilemma he is constantly confronted with. Does he go on with the endless chase for money, in which he wants to attend to as many patients as possible in the course of a single day, or does he want to satisfy the patient who wants to spend as little time as possible in the waiting room and spend as much time he likes once he gets in to see the doctor?

The issue of patient satisfaction is central to the quality rating any healthcare establishment will ever enjoy. Hospitals are truly rated all over the world, not based on the sophistication of their operating equipment, but on how much the patient, who is the customer, enjoys the service he is given in his interaction with that healthcare establishment. In a world where research figures are showing a terrible lack of quality attention to patients even in the developed world, healthcare organizations are expected to demonstrate top notch concern for the patient above anything else. In the United States of America of recent, it was discovered that medical errors were the third largest cause of deaths, only behind cancer and respiratory disesases. Medical errors tell everything about the quality of service that is given in our hospitals. If the case of the United States of America is that bad, then we should not talk about the quality of service that is meted out to patients in a developing country like Nigeria.

In our next post, we look at what time, in terms of length of waiting shall a patient be subjected to and how long he should be allowed to stay with the physician once he is finally ushered in.

Kola Owolabi:- (FIMC) Fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants (with certifications in Healthcare Organizations Operations and Qualify Improvement in Healthcare Organizations)


Kola Owolabi is the Principal Consultant of Healing Balm Health Consult, a Healthcare Consultancy services organization involved in the training of healthcare practitioners, particularly on issues concerning putting in place quality improvement culture . He has consulted for prominent Healthcare organizations in the world, including the United States largest maker of minimally invasive cardiological devices, Nigeria’s most prominent firm of opthalmologists and opticians and several others.

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