Toxic Mindsets in Outpatient Medicine: „Patients don’t care about waiting comfort.“

Data, facts and instruments on the German health system

What it’s all about

GPs and specialists who cut corners on waiting comfort inevitably face disadvantages to their practice success.

Simple and uncomfortable

An unadorned room, a table in the middle with a few tattered magazines, unupholstered chairs without backrests, an umbrella stand, several coat hooks and a supplementary sign stating that there is no liability for the wardrobe: this is how the waiting room often looks in medical practices.

Little investment, even less satisfaction

The equipment criteria of such designed rooms are mainly minimal equipment costs and low cleaning and maintenance costs. In the practice assessments of the patients of our [Praxismanagement-Betriebsvergleichen©], this spartan waiting comfort is now consistently rated poorly; the Patient Care Quality Score (PCQS), the satisfaction in relation to the requirements, is on average just 36% for German medical practices. Even the best medical care quality and the friendliest medical assistants cannot change this.

An explosive mixture leads to extra work

If, however, a poorly adjusted practice organisation is added to this, it has serious consequences for the assessment of the quality of care, because the dismissive waiting comfort turns every minute into an eternity. The result is impatient and dissatisfied patients who keep asking how long it will be before they can talk to the doctor. The additional workload for the staff, which is aimed at putting them off and calming them down, is twice as high as in practices with pleasant waiting comfort. While a medical assistant in a „comfortable waiting room“ practice needs an average of 23 seconds for the service process section „waiting room management“, the average time span in „uncomfortable waiting room“ practices is 51 seconds. This results in 46 minutes of additional time per hundred patients.

Saving on waiting comfort is expensive

If one extrapolates this additional time expenditure to a year and values the time with the corresponding salary costs, the resulting amount is clearly above the investment volume for an appealing waiting room. The initially envisaged savings potential thus proves to be an expensive alternative course of action when viewed as a whole.

Mood dampener also for the staff

In addition, frustration also arises among the assistants, which in turn influences the working atmosphere and the relationship with the patients. Poor waiting comfort thus induces a mooding-down spiral, which in the long run affects the overall satisfaction of the patients.

The practice quick test

Interested general practitioners and specialists who would like to examine not only the waiting comfort, but all performance features of their practice and improve them if necessary, can use the Practice Management Comparison© for this purpose.