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Extra face time curbs frustration of long waits: survey of clinic patients. (Practice Trends).

NEW ORLEANS -- More time spent with the physician was associated with increased patient satisfaction in a recent study--particularly when wait times were long, Jennifer Lessig reported at the southern regional meeting of the American Federation for Medical Research.

Of 257 patients, aged 16-97 years, who were surveyed immediately after a physician visit at an internal medicine resident continuity clinic, 13% reported dissatisfaction with the visit. Patients responded to a four-item survey about waiting room and examination room wait times, overall satisfaction with wait time, and time spent with the physician, said Ms. Lessig, a medical student at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, where the study was conducted.

A long examination room wait time was defined as more than 10 minutes.

The clinic standard for wait time is 15 minutes, so patients were divided into those who waited in the waiting room for more than 15 minutes (long wait time), and those who waited for less than 15 minutes.

The mean waiting room wait time was 12 minutes, the mean examination room wait time was 7.6 minutes, and the mean time spent with residents was 24 minutes, as reported by the patients. Independent predictors of decreased patient satisfaction were long wait times in the waiting and examination rooms, less time with the physician, and interactions between time with the doctor and time spent waiting in the examination and waiting rooms.

Of patients with long waiting room wait times, 44% of those who spent less than 15 minutes with the physician were dissatisfied with the wait time; 16% of those who spent more than 15 minutes with the physician were dissatisfied, Ms. Lessig said.

Similarly, when the time spent waiting in the examination room was greater than 10 minutes, 66% of patients who spent less than 15 minutes with the physician were dissatisfied with the wait time, while 10% of those who spent more than 15 minutes with the physician were dissatisfied.

Greater time spent with the physician also was shown to improve patient satisfaction in patients with short wait times, but the effect was more pronounced in those with long wait times, she noted.
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Author:Worcester, Sharon
Publication:Internal Medicine News
Date:Apr 1, 2003
Words:354
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