Point-of-Care Perspectives from PatientPoint

2023 Oncology Wait Times: Impacting Patient Experience

by PatientPoint

Oncology patient waiting in the waiting room, looking at the screen that’s displaying oncology content

It has been over 6 months since the WHO officially declared the end of the global PHE for COVID-19, and the “new normal” of patient traffic is a lot busier than we’re used to, especially in oncology.

We analyzed patient traffic data between March of 2020 and November of 2023 and found that office traffic is continuing to move independent of COVID-19 incidence, as society is getting more comfortable with post-pandemic life.1 The three specialties experiencing the greatest impact from increased patient traffic are urology, primary care and oncology, respectively.2

A bar graph ranking the average patient traffic growth in 2023 per specialty.

Despite average traffic increasing, average wait times have decreased since 2022, though not by much. Overall, patients are still spending an average of 12.3 minutes in the waiting room and an average of 11.4 minutes waiting in the exam room by themselves.4

Those wait times are higher with oncology patients who are waiting an average of 14 minutes in the waiting room and 12.4 minutes in the exam room without an HCP.3

Waiting in the car is becoming a thing of the past, with only 1% of patients stating they “only waited outside or in the car” and 13% spent some time in the car.3 Compare that to the 97% of patients who said they spent time waiting in the waiting room.3

A table showing the 2023 average wait time by specialty in minutes.

Use the wait time productively

Patients are naturally nervous when going to appointments. For oncology patients who have heightened stress and the potential of spending hours in the office for treatments, long wait times can increase fear and anxiety, leading to a negative in-office experience. Using the wait time effectively is crucial for improving patient experiences and health and practice outcomes.

The waiting room is the perfect place to alleviate anxiety, reduce stress and prepare patients for their visit. By sharing relevant information alongside educational and motivational content, patients are engaged and entertained while getting the information that helps them become more active in their health. Doing so on digital screens provides the added benefits of easy customization, quick content updates, the ability to pair practice information with specialty health information and it adds a modern aesthetic of tech-forward, innovative practice.

In the exam room, digital screens can go a step further than those in the waiting room by providing a level of personalization and interactivity for the patient. Using touchscreens can allow patients to explore information specific to their condition or treatment plan. MAs can even direct patients’ attention to relevant information, like advanced care planning, screenings and treatment and procedure videos to prepare patients for their meeting with their doctor. This helps optimize the doctor’s time so it’s spent on more conversation and less on administrative tasks.

To learn more about digital screens and how they can help you take advantage of the wait times, visit our Physician’s Office page.

1John Hopkins COVID data and Medfuse Claims Data from DarkMatter Office visits for All Specialties – 7-Day Average​
2MedFuse Data by DarkMatter2bd​​. 2023 Baseline: Average of 2021 and 2022 10-Day Average. 2022 Baseline: Average of 2020 and 2021 10-Day Average​
32022-2023 Nationwide Web Surveys of 6,942 respondents who visited physician offices installed with the PatientPoint Custom Guide, Exam Room Print, Waiting Room, & Exam Room Digital Screens Programs. Data as of 9/30/2023.​
42023 Nationwide Web Surveys of 5,701 respondents who visited physician offices installed with the PatientPoint Custom Guide, Exam Room Print, Waiting Room, & Exam Room Digital Screens Programs. Data as of 9/30/23.

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