Patient waiting time is a benchmark utilized to evaluate the responsiveness of a health care organization. The intention of this quality benchmark is to enhance quality of care and evaluated through examining the degree of patient flow and operational efficiency.
Patient waiting time is a national benchmark allowing medical organizations to meet quality expectations regarding customer satisfaction and provision of quality care. McMullen and Netland (2013) aver that patient waiting time is the duration that a client takes before accessing services of a physician, nurse or pharmacist. The benchmark threshold for patient waiting time in emergency departments in the United States’ health care facilities is 90 minutes with effective organizations attending to patients’ needs in less than thirty minutes (Murphy et al., 2016). The intention of patient waiting time quality improvement is to provide health care services within the least amount of time possible.
Evaluating patient flow is a technique utilized to ascertain whether the patient waiting time has been met or exceeded. White and Griffith (2015) contend that well-managed health care organizations promptly serve their patients. The improvement in patient flow is an indication that the benchmark has been met. The fulfillment of the waiting time benchmark is represented by short wait time at the registration, examination, assessment, pharmacy and discharge sections of the hospital. The other way to evaluate the fulfillment of the benchmark is to examine the operational efficiency of a health care organization. Therefore, an increase in operational efficiency represented by increased volume of patients attended to and frequency of patient visits signals success.
Health care organizations attempt to reduce the waiting time by patients to enhance satisfaction through provision of quality and timely care. Increase in patients flow within hospital sections and improvement in operational efficiency signals success at meeting the quality benchmark.
McMullen, M., & Netland, P. (2013). Wait time as a driver of overall patient satisfaction in an ophthalmology clinic. Clinical ophthalmology, 7, 1655–1660.
Murphy, C., Galloway, T., Handorf, E., Egleston, B., Wang, L., Mehra, R., Flieder, D., & Ridge, J. (2016). Survival impact of increasing time to treatment initiation for patients with head and neck cancer in the United States. Journal of clinical oncology: official journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, 34(2), 169–178.
White, K. & Griffith, J. (2015). The well-managed healthcare organization. (8th ed.). Chicago, IL: Health Administration Press. ISBN-13: 978-1567937213