KPI of the Day – Healthcare: # Patient consultation time
Measures the average time spent by physicians, on consulting patients.
Measuring this indicator is of a great importance for any medical unit. Besides providing information on topics related to internal processes, like whether there are enough staff members who can attend to patients, or the actual efficiency of personnel, measuring this indicator can also bring useful information related to patient satisfaction.
A study done by John Cape, published in the British Journal of General Practice, has proved that the consultation length is one of the things that directly influences patients’ satisfaction.
It is generally agreed that consultations are at the core of general practice, but practitioners in the field are still debating about the optimum length of time spent with the patient.
On the one hand, patients often complain that consultations are too short and they do not get to discuss all the details of their condition. On the other hand, even if increased consultation times might be associated with enhanced patient satisfaction, doctors argue that the effects of a prolonged consultation are relatively modest.
Thus, the explanation might lie in the fact that patient satisfaction regarding consultation times may be influenced by matters other than the objectively measured time for consultations. Some recommendations for optimizing consultation times include:
- Setting targets and communicating expectations;
- Ensuring effective scheduling through appointments;
- Making sure patients understand the purpose of the consultation;
- Keeping patients informed about their health status;
- Raising awareness on the continuity of care through patient healthcare plans.
Nonetheless, focusing on patient consultation length will improve a healthcare provider’s services, thus allowing him to constantly adapt their services according to the resources it has at its disposal and the amount of work that needs to be done. In the long run, such a framework is aimed at providing better services at lower costs.
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