test laboratories queue management

Queue Management in Test Labs: Making Clinic Visits Safe

In the face of ever-increasing demands, test laboratories, clinics and diagnostics providers receive frequent complaints regarding wait times.

Be it medium or large-scale providers, complaints about wait times quickly transform into gripes about the overall patient experience and the quality of medical assistance.

Even clinical laboratory testing and medical diagnostic imaging services are no strangers to the effects from negative reviews: 61% of physicians have heard negative feedback from their patients regarding wait times.

In recent time, waiting has also become closely tied to another hazard — virus spread. Without social distancing, physical lines and waiting areas can result in something even worse than negative patient feedback.

In this article, we will take a look at ways to avoid congestion in test lab waiting rooms, and reduce the level of stress and amount of work for your medical staff.

The problem with long wait times in clinics and test labs

From blood collection to getting the results back and then having a follow-up consultation, there are a lot of time sinkholes.

Like most hospitals or clinics, test collection centers can be notorious for their long wait times.

The reason why this matters is that there is a direct link between how long a patient has to wait and how satisfied he or she is with the overall experience.

As a matter of fact, 30% of patients experiencing long wait times leave before seeing the doctor, and 20% change their healthcare providers altogether.

So solving the wait time problem is paramount for any business, clinics and test sites included.

There are some known tricks to make waiting less painful and frustrating. We’ve covered a lof of these before in our guide to the psychology of waiting:

  • Make sure you give accurate wait time estimates and notify of any delays.

  • Distract visitors from waiting by providing entertainment.

  • Let visitors spend their time somewhere else as they wait.

The last point is noteworthy, as it helps you not only speed up the process but also manage your capacity.

This has always been true for congestion-prone industries like healthcare and pharmacy, but in 2021, the peak of pandemic, it hits especially close to home.

Keeping patients safe during vaccinations and tests

Thanks to the pandemic, making vaccinations in a safe and accessible way is more important in 2021 than ever before.

Naturally, any kind of high-traffic area is a danger zone for patients. It is the job of healthcare facilities — or any business, really — to provide a touch-free environment and help maintain social distancing.

One of the worst offenders when it comes to virus spread are physical queues. When grouped up together and frustrated from waiting, people tend to get more lax about health hazards.

Crowded waiting areas are a health risk disaster waiting to happen.

The first instinct to combat this risk would be to cut out the lines entirely and restrict the movement within the facility. This raises another problem, however.

Patient experience is something that plays an increasingly more important role in healthcare — the resulting patient reviews can make or break any business and decide the revenue. That’s why it’s in the best interests of providers to offer their patients smooth assistance and transition through the system.

Without face-to-face interactions, this is a real challenge.

Spontaneous vs planned visit: which patient journey is safer?

When it comes to healthcare, there are characteristically two kinds of visitors: those who have made an appointment, and those who simply walked in without any advance notice.

While people by far prefer to make their hospital and clinic visits as scarce as possible, not every contingency can be accounted for. Spontaneous visits are inevitable.

Now, which type of visits is safer?

The knee-jerk reaction might be to call spontaneous visits more risky than planned visitations. But the truth is, they don’t have to be.

With the right management tools, an unpremeditated clinic visit can be just as safe as your average appointment or routine check-up.

The tool we’re talking about is, of course, a cloud-based patient journey management solution. Not only does it make it easier for test laboratories to maintain social distancing, but also — yes, it takes care of that pesky wait time problem.

A virtual queue management system for test labs and clinics

The solution is to remove the physical aspect of queuing entirely, and allow patients to check in remotely and join the virtual queue.

Queues at many institutions, not only limited to healthcare, are still operating on the ticket basis. A visitor comes in, takes a ticket with a number on it, and waits until this number is called up or shows up on the lobby screen.

Virtual queue management works almost the same way, only instead of physical tickets you get mobile tickets.

One method of distributing e-tickets is by providing QR codes for visitors to scan with their phones. When the patient is next in line, the staff can call the patient forward using the mobile queuing system.

This helps minimize physical touchpoints and interactions between patients and medical staff.

As a result, you reduce crowds in your waiting area by allowing patients to wait outside the premises. Your staff get a load off their back, and your patients get to experience a truly safe clinical setting.

Unlike a take-a-number system, QR queues take almost no time to set up and don’t require complex hardware. A cloud-based system also allows you to easily track the volume of tickets, historic data, plus overview of interactions for specific visitors.

As an extra benefit, patients get to feel that they are exercising choice: check-in is performed entirely by them, and they feel in control of the entire process. This has a direct impact on how they feel about the overall experience.

To sum up, mobile queuing in test labs:

  1. Removes the physical component of waiting.

  2. Allows visitors to be in control of their sign-in process.

  3. Reduces manual administration and paperwork.

  4. Achieves better information flow.

  5. Minimizes the risk of contagion.

With a digital queue system, you also can gather patient data from real-time monitoring. The system generates service reports to help further optimize the wait line management processes, making an already automated process even more efficient.

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Qminder is a cloud-based queue management system that enhances patient experience by implementing a safer, contactless patient journey.

One of our healthcare clients, St. John’s Medical Center, managed to bring its average wait time below the three-minute mark.

So if you want to provide safe diagnostics and testing for all patients, but do so in a fast, personal and accessible way, Qminder is the way to go.

Try our 14-day free trial or schedule a demo to see Qminder in action and understand how it fits into your test lab environment.

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