Man looks at a tablet while sitting on his couch

Who's Minding the Virtual Waiting Room?

Many practices have started using virtual waiting rooms to enhance the patient experience and keep everyone safe. But are you using it well?

The pandemic brought us quickly to a surge in telemedicine. Although the use of telemedicine is decreasing somewhat as regulations change and vaccines become more common, all signs point to the fact that telemedicine is here to stay. And that means that virtual waiting rooms are here for the long haul as well. Whether you’re in-person or virtual, one thing remains constant: patient expectations. With that in mind, it’s important to consider how well your virtual waiting room functions.

Track Wait Times

As we all know from personal experience, at in-person appointments, you never know the likelihood of being seen at the specific time of your appointment. From a risk management perspective, it’s recommended that you track how well your scheduling generally adheres to the appointment time. Any wait times longer than 30 minutes can affect patient satisfaction; it is important that if you are running late, the patient is made aware of the circumstances.

When it comes to the virtual visit, the guidelines don’t change: You should still keep track of how long the time is from check-in to the actual visit and keep the patient engaged while they are waiting to be seen. Over the last 18 months, we have all experienced the anxiousness that comes from waiting in front of our computer screen and wondering if we are in the correct meeting at the correct time when nothing seems to be starting. 

Assess Missed Appointments

Another problem area can be no-shows and missed appointments. For in-person visits, sending out reminders to the patient is highly recommended. This is no different for the virtual visit. It is important to remind the patient of the upcoming scheduled virtual visit. Any no shows or missed virtual visits should be documented just as if they were an in-person visit. Especially note if the issue for the no-show/missed appointment was related to technical issues. Audit your no-show/missed virtual appointments so you can determine how to alleviate the missed opportunities.

Bust Boredom with Education

Consider ways you may help keep your patients engaged and entertained as they wait for their scheduled appointment time. One practice in Florida used their virtual waiting room as an opportunity to provide educational videos

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