The sore point: assessing the relationship of waiting time and talk time in GP and specialist practices

Data, facts and instruments on the German health system

What it is about

The „classic“ view in patient satisfaction surveys is to look at the survey characteristics in isolation. But an analysis that is supposed to depict the reality of impressions must also take into account effect relationships.

From disaster to excellence

One component of the Practice Management Comparison© is therefore the assessment of the composite effect of patients‘ waiting and consultation time experiences. These are two key performance indicators (KPI) that are formed by combining the information on requirements and satisfaction. Four basic constellations can be identified in GP and specialist practices:

  • Excellence occurs when a short waiting time is followed by a long conversation time.
  • Disaster is the opposite pole of overlong waiting and too short a consultation.
  • Assembly line is the term for the clash of the short variants of both KPIs.
  • Ambivalence results from the clash of the long variants.

The scenarios most frequently observed in everyday practice are „disaster“ and „assembly line“ with simultaneous negative radiation on the evaluation of the other examination characteristics.

Workarounds do not help

Some teams seat their patients in the doctor’s room early, also to counteract the impression of too long a waiting time. This suggests, however, that the interview will start right away. If this does not happen, the assessment of the waiting time is even worse than if the patient remains in the waiting room. The same applies to waiting areas in corridors, which are rejected by practice visitors anyway. Similarly, waiting comfort has an influence on the subjective perception of time.

If the doctor acts hectic and unfocused during the consultation, even a long conversation can be perceived as too short.

How good is the waiting-talk time ratio in your practice?

GPs and specialists who would like to clarify this question and at the same time obtain an overall view of the quality of work in their practice in order to identify previously unused opportunities for improvement can use the Practice Management Comparison© for this purpose. It is available in our Analysis Shop: