Reducing wait time in a hospital pharmacy to promote customer service

Qual Manag Health Care. Apr-Jun 2008;17(2):112-27. doi: 10.1097/01.QMH.0000316989.48673.49.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of 2 different interventions on wait times at a hospital outpatient pharmacy: (1) giving feedback to employees about customer satisfaction with wait times and (2) giving a combined intervention package that included giving more specific feedback about actual wait times and goal setting for wait time reduction in addition to the customer satisfaction feedback. The relationship between customer satisfaction ratings and wait times was examined to determine whether wait times affected customer service satisfaction.

Subjects and methods: Participants were 10 employees (4 pharmacists and 6 technicians) of an outpatient pharmacy. Wait times and customer satisfaction ratings were collected for "waiting customers." An ABCBA' within-subjects design was used to assess the effects of the interventions on both wait time and customer satisfaction, where A was the baseline (no feedback and no goal setting); B was the customer satisfaction feedback; C was the customer satisfaction feedback, the wait time feedback, and the goal setting for wait time reduction; and A' was a follow-up condition that was similar to the original baseline condition.

Results and conclusions: Wait times were reduced by approximately 20%, and there was concomitant increased shift in levels of customer satisfaction, as indicated by the correlation between these variables (r = -0.57 and P < .05). Given the current prescription-filling process, we do not expect that major, additional reductions in wait times could be produced. Many variables may account for the variability in any individual customer's wait time. Data from this study may provide useful preliminary benchmarking data for standard pharmacy wait times.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Consumer Behavior*
  • Efficiency, Organizational*
  • Feedback
  • Humans
  • Michigan
  • Middle Aged
  • Pharmacy Service, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Waiting Lists*