Rebecca Chi, Chief Client Experience Officer, discusses how to decrease patient waiting times as specialist appointment wait times lengthen.
Accessing specialty medical care shouldn’t be difficult, yet 27% of people in the U.S. wait one month or more to see healthcare specialists. A survey by AristaMD of four in-demand specialties – cardiology, dermatology, endocrinology, and gastroenterology, revealed that appointment wait times for some specialties exceed 90-days.
Endocrinology has an average wait period of 67 days, which surpasses the overall survey average by 19 days. Gastroenterology generally has more providers per clinic, yet still averages a 64-day wait time per provider and a 16-day increase from the overall average.
While these metrics reflect a broader trend of rising healthcare wait times across the country, the daily impact on individuals is cause for concern. Each day that patients wait to receive specialty care, the likelihood the appointment will be canceled, or the person will suffer additional medical complications rises. The time-lapse to see a specialist is lengthening in the U.S., but one solution is working to effectively combat the wait-time challenge – eConsults.
The Issue of Long Wait Times
While endocrinology and gastroenterology top the wait-per-provider by specialty, several states are experiencing higher-than-average wait times as compared to the rest of the nation. For example, Oregon has the most extreme wait times with an above-average wait time across cardiology, dermatology, endocrinology and gastroenterology.
The benefits of a referral system for your patients – decrease patient waiting times
Referral management is the process by which patients are transitioned to the next step in their care. Oftentimes, when a patient goes to the doctor, it is due to a specific need for medical care. According to the United States Census, 37 percent of young adults 18 to 24 did not visit a provider at all during the year, compared with 8 percent of those 65 and older. Because of that, It is important to have a seamless process in which patients are referred to their next specialist for necessary treatment. It is just as important to communicate the benefits of referral management.
Here are three ways patients benefit from a referral management platform:
1. Streamlined referral process
2. Electronically complete patient forms
3. Insurance verification