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Doctors' Ratings Tank When Patients Are Kept Waiting: Study
  • Robert Preidt
  • Posted February 28, 2020

Doctors' Ratings Tank When Patients Are Kept Waiting: Study

Tick-tock: A long delay in the waiting room annoys some patients so much that they give their doctors lower ratings, a new study finds.

"Waiting to see the doctor is not like waiting in line for a fun ride at Disney World," said senior author Dr. Oren Gottfried, a professor of neurosurgery at Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, N.C.

He and his colleagues analyzed 15 months of patient ratings after more than 27,000 visits to 22 spine surgeons at Duke University practices.

The average clinic visit lasted about 85 minutes, the study found. Every 10-minute increase in waiting time reduced patient scores for overall visit experience and the doctor's communication by 3%.

"While a medical visit is important, it does not have the positive feedback of an amusement park ride where a two-hour wait seems worth it for even a short ride," Gottfried said in a university news release. "This isn't entirely surprising, but our data shows it's something doctors need to be aware of and should manage."

The researchers took waiting room times, in-room times, electronic health record responses and patient demographics into consideration for the study.

"Anytime you can improve scores by 3%, that's big," Gottfried said. "So if 10 minutes in the waiting room means a drop of 3%, that something that should be addressed, because it's hard to make up for that in the actual doctor-patient visit."

The study was published online Feb. 21 in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians offers advice on choosing a family doctor.

SOURCE: Duke University, news release, Feb. 25, 2020
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