28 Nov 2022


Wait Times and Patient Outcomes

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Academic level: University

Paper type: Assignment

Words: 539

Pages: 2

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It is the desire of most healthcare providers to deliver high quality care that leaves their patients satisfied. However, many providers struggle to accomplish this objective. The hardships that they face can be attributed to the long wait times that they force their patients to endure. If they are to improve patient satisfaction and outcomes, providers must spare no expense in reducing the wait times.

Summary/Purpose Statement 

The purpose of the investigation is to establish how wait times affect patients. In particular, the paper aims to show that when they are forced to wait for long periods, patients are likely to be dissatisfied with services even when the services are objectively of high quality. Furthermore, the paper highlights some of the strategies that healthcare providers can adopt as part of their efforts to minimize wait times.

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Wait Times and Outcomes 

There is overwhelming evidence which links extended wait times to poor patient outcomes.

Wait times depress patient satisfaction (Bleustein, Rothschild, Valen, Valatis, Schweitzer & Jones, 2014). Basically, when patients have to wait for too long for service, they are more likely to rate the service as poor and unsatisfactory.

Long wait times can compound the health problems that patients present with (Reichert & Jacobs, 2018). For example, as they wait too long for treatment, patients can develop complications.

Overly long wait times pose a serious threat to the safety of patients (Guttman, Schull, Vermeulen & Stukel, 2011).

Wait Times and Organizational Performance 

In addition to adversely affecting patient outcomes, long wait times have also been shown to present negative impacts for healthcare providers.

Long wait times are known to increase hospital operating costs (Ringard & Hagen, 2011).

The reputation of hospitals known for their long wait times suffers when they fail to institute corrective action (Ringard & Hagen, 2011).

Long wait times could see hospitals suffer punitive action imposed by regulators and government agencies concerned about the damaging effect of unacceptably long queues at hospitals (Ringard & Hagen, 2011).

Strategies Improving Wait Times 

There are a number of strategies that have proven effective in helping hospitals and other medical institutions to minimize patient wait times.

Medical institutions need to adopt open access scheduling (Ansell, Crispo, Simard & Bjerre, 2017). Among other benefits, open access scheduling allows the institutions to attend to patients on the same day when they book appointments, thereby easing queues and reducing wait times.

Increasing the size of the hospital staff is another strategy that hospitals are known to use to address long wait times (Ansell, Crispo, Simard & Bjerre, 2017). More personnel mean that hospitals are able to deal with backlogs.

Triage is another strategy that is highly effective (Ansell, Crispo, Simard & Bjerre, 2017).It involves prioritizing patients with the most pressing needs. However, in itself, this strategy does not solve long wait times. Instead, it makes it possible for providers to address such outcomes as complications that often arise when patients wait for too long.


There is no question that long wait times adversely affect patients. Furthermore, this problem also impacts healthcare providers negatively. It harms their reputation and exposes them to action from regulators and government agencies. To shield themselves against the negative effects, healthcare facilities should adopt the wide range of solutions whose effectiveness has been demonstrated. Triage, open access scheduling and hiring more personnel are among these solutions.


Ansell, D., Crispo, J. A. G., Simard, B., & Bjerre, L. M. (2017). Interventions to reduce wait times for primary care appointments: a systematic review. BMC Health Services Research. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12913-017-2219-y

Bleustein, C., Rothschild, D. B., Valen, A., Valatis, E., Schweitzer, L., Jones, R. (2014). Wait times, patient satisfaction scores, and the perception of care. The American Journal of Managed Care, 20 (5), 393-400.

Guttman, A., Schull, M. J., Vermeulen, M. J., & Stukel, T. A. (2011). Association between waiting times and short term mortality and hospital admission after departure from emergency department: population based cohort study from Ontario, Canada. BMJ. 10.1136/bmj.d2983.

Reichert, A., & Jacobs, R. (2018). The impact of waiting time on patient outcomes: Evidence from early intervention in psychosis services in England. Health Economics, 27 (11), 1772-87.

Ringard, A., & Hagen, T. P. (2011). Are waiting times for hospital admissions affected by patients' choices and mobility? BMC Health Services Research. https://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6963-11-170

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 15). Wait Times and Patient Outcomes.


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