There’s a psychology of waiting. And David Maister wrote a very good paper about it called “The Psychology of Waiting Lines”. We in the medical field can learn a lot from it, since long wait times seem to be a very common complaint.
Here’s a short list of factors that make waits seem longer (and my remedies).
1. Unoccupied time feels longer than occupied time.
When we are distracted, time passes more quickly. Disney does a great job of distracting us as we stand in those absurdly long lines by showing us video clips about the ride we’re about to get on. It not only lessens the perceived wait time, it also educates you about safety precautions and gets you all excited about riding the ride.
Turn wasted wait time into valuable education time by instructing patients about how to better their health and telling them how great you and your staff are. Make them feel as if they’ve begun their appointment from the moment they enter the reception area.
2. Uncertain waits are longer than known waits, finite waits.
Again Disney does this great. You get in the line knowing that you will be waiting for hours, but you still get in the line.
People will wait more patiently when told “The doctor will see you in 30 minutes.” than when they are told “The doctor will see you soon.”
3. Anxiety makes waits seem longer.
If you feel like you’ve chosen the slowest line at the grocery or if you think all the good seats in the theater will be taken, you’ll be anxious and the wait will seem so much longer.
Patients usually visit a doctor when they are worried about some aspect of their health. So it would behoove us to assuage those feelings.
We all know that calming music relieves anxiety. So does being distracted. See point #1 above.
I know of one very effective thing that is the remedy for all these dreadful waiting symptoms.
It’s affordable and it’s easy to use and you can see it here – on the Product Tour!