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Time management of patients

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Time management of patients
Richard A Krathen MD1, Natalie Hart RN2, Heidi B Donnelly MD1
Dermatology Online Journal 13 (3): 32

1. Dayton Skin Surgery Center, Dayton, Ohio, and Wright State University Dermatology, Dayton, Ohio.
2. Dayton Skin Surgery Center, Dayton, Ohio.

Dermatologic surgeons often see clinic patients between stages of Mohs micrographic surgery for the most efficient use of office time. Unpredictability is part of the nature of any surgical field, dermatologic surgery included. As a consequence, patients are at times unintentionally left waiting in examination rooms for a period of time while a larger repair is finished or hemostasis is achieved in anticoagulated patients. Long wait times to see the physician decrease patient satisfaction [1].

We highly value patient satisfaction and are continuously seeking ways to improve our practice. Patients routinely fill out questionnaires regarding their experience with our practice. The most frequently cited complaint is waiting for the physician.

We have devised a system for continuous patient updating using a simple timer device. In our experience, keeping patients informed of their approximate wait time and offering them the opportunity to reschedule their appointment if desired has increased patient satisfaction and decreased frustration on the part of the patients, physicians, and clinical staff. The electronic timer is set for 15 minutes; when the time has expired, an audible digital beep is heard. The timer is reset by a clinical staff member who then checks on the needs of all patients in examination rooms. They are informed of their expected wait time to see the physician. Any other needs relating to room temperature, thirst, hunger, or other matters of comfort are also addressed at that time. We have found that patients are very appreciative of these continuous updates, which has in turn increased overall patient satisfaction in our practice.


1. Probst JC, Greenhouse DL, Selassie AW. Patient and physician satisfaction with an outpatient care visit. J Fam Pract. 1997 Nov;45(5):418-25.

© 2007 Dermatology Online Journal