Managing the Wait

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One very rainy day, I went to the grocery. I had to stock up because Mr. Weatherman said its going to be a wet and stormy week and my pantry is empty. As soon as I stepped into the grocery, I realized I was not the only one thinking that way. So with EVERYBODY else!! It looked like panic buying! The next hurdle was getting to the counters to pay! The lines were long and slow 🙁

Waiting is not fun. I admire establishments who are able to manage waiting lines. I have a few good experience waiting.

I stayed in a hotel for a convention. During such time, rooms are filled up with delegates. Breakfast time will find you lining up to get in. Long, long line. My stomach is already grumbling. Out came the manager carrying mini sandwiches and offering drinks to those in line! I couldn’t help but smile.

I accompanied my aunt for an eye check up in a busy eye center. This center is known for its good doctors and good service. I was expecting a long wait. I went directly to the receptionist who got her name and gave me a form I helped my aunt to fill up. I gave the form back and we sat in a waiting area. After a few minutes, another person approached us and asked my aunt a few questions then he excused himself and told us to wait and he will get back to my aunt. He came back and led us to another area where my aunt’s eye was briefly examined using a machine. Then back to a sitting area where we waited. Not too many minutes after, we were asked to move to another area and enter a consultation room. We waited for a while again. My aunt was seen by an eye doctor who discussed her condition and medications. Another person came to lead us to the next area where we were asked if we want the prescriptions filled or we would like to proceed to payment. We paid and off we went. I am sure there was a line. But we moved from one station to another with a manageable wait in between stations. There was always someone attending to us. There was something being done to my aunt in between waits. It felt like we were progressing. The waiting became manageable.

Paying bills can also involve long waits. Stores have made use of numbers for queiung. You get the number. Find out what number is currently being served either by asking or through the dashboard displayed. You still wait but knowing your order in the line eases the waiting because your mind has been prepared to accept it. You can choose to do other things or come back at an approximate time. For those who chooses to wait, a television plays a video or show to keep you entertained.

Fast food needs to be fast! With several persons ahead of me before i get to the counter to order, the store manager starts to take orders from people in the line and calls the order in advance to the kitchen staff. I still have to wait but knowing its getting prepared and all I had to do in the counter is pay made waiting okay.

We can learn from these experiences to manage waiting time of patients in our clinic.

1. Make waiting bearable. Offer something to ease the wait. Something to eat or drink. Something children can do like coloring books or book to browse for children and parents or toys children can play with.

2. Give patients a sense that their visit is progressing. For pediatricians, it can start with getting measurements.If you have a nurse or an associate, have them conduct preliminary interview before they enter the consultation room. If there is fever, paracetamol can be given. If the presenting problem is known, for example diarrhea or fever, materials to read can be given for parents to read. Just like my eye center experience, the wait seem shorter.

3. If patients need to wait because you will not make it to the clinic on time, inform them of the approximate time of arrival. Under promise, over deliver.

There will be ocassions when waiting is inevitable. Managing it makes it acceptable. How is your patient waiting?

photo credit: Vlado/freedigitalphotos.net

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