Objectives: To analyze the impact of waiting time on patient satisfaction scores; not only of satisfaction with the provider in general, but also with the specific perception of the quality of care and physician abilities.
Study design: Using surveys regarding patient satisfaction with provider care, data was collected from a sample of 11,352 survey responses returned by patients over the course of 1 year across all 44 ambulatory clinics within a large academic medical center. While a small minority of patients volunteered identification, the surveys were made anonymously.
Methods: A questionnaire with Health Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems patient satisfaction and waiting time queries was administered via mail to all clinic patients-roughly 49,000-with a response rate of 23%. Employing a standard statistical approach, results were tabulated and stratified according to provider scores and wait time experience, and then analyzed using statistical modeling techniques.
Results: While it is well established that longer wait times are negatively associated with clinical provider scores of patient satisfaction, results indicated that every aspect of patient experience-specifically confidence in the care provider and perceived quality of care-correlated negatively with longer wait times.
Conclusions: The clinical ambulatory patient experience is heavily influenced by time spent waiting for provider care. Not only are metrics regarding the likelihood to recommend and the overall satisfaction with the experience negatively impacted by longer wait times, but increased wait times also affect perceptions of information, instructions, and the overall treatment provided by physicians and other caregivers.