5 Ways to Reduce Patient Wait Times in Surgery Centers

Georganna Howell, RN, administrator of Greenspring Surgery Center, an orthopedic and pain management facility in Baltimore, discusses five ways to shorten patient wait times and make waiting less onerous.


1. Shorten turnover time. Reducing turnover by 15 minutes between cases will, in turn, reduce the patient's wait time. "Any reductions in the wait time will be appreciated by the patient," Ms. Howell says.

2. Shorten time before surgery. Many surgery centers require patients to arrive two hours before pre-op, but Greenspring has shortened this to 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the case. A two-hour lead time gives the center the ability to schedule the patient earlier if an appointment falls through, but this happens rarely in a well-run surgery center. Making patients come in early for this possibility is "not respectful of their time," Ms. Howell says.

3. Have good patient contacts. For the rare instances when patients are needed to arrive earlier than expected, Greenspring wants to make sure the patient can be reached. Patients are asked for three contacts: their telephone numbers, the numbers of their spouses or friends, and their e-mail addresses. "If patients can come in earlier, they like that," Ms. Howell says.

4. Stagger scheduling. Each surgeon has a different pace and scheduling should reflect that. A faster surgeon should have shorter block times. This means that the next patient is ready to go when the surgeon is finished with the last patient.

5. Keep the patient informed. If the schedule starts to slow down, don't keep the patient in the dark. "The patient deserves to know what is going on," Ms. Howell says.

Learn more about Greenspring Surgery Center.


Read more suggestions for patient satisfaction improvement:


- 3 Ways to Achieve Excellent Patient Throughput


- Surgery Center Best Practice: Send Hand-Signed Letters to Patients After Surgery


- 5 Key Considerations for Creating and Distributing Patient Satisfaction Surveys

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