Patients’ experience with appointment length

Patients’ survey rating of the amount of time their doctor gave them in their most recent visit. (see data dictionary)

What do you think?

  • Do patients think that doctors are spending enough time with them?
  • How do your experiences with your appointment length compare to those reported by other Albertans?

Understanding “amount of time the doctor spent with me”.

In a survey conducted October 2018 to January 2019, the HQCA asked patients who recently visited their doctor, “how would you rate the amount of time your doctor gave you in your most recent visit?”

Patients could choose “excellent / very good / good / fair / poor”.

Patient experience is likely better if patients feel enough time is spent with them during the scheduled visit. During their visit, patients may have one, or multiple, things that they want to speak to their doctor about. Addressing what is important to the patient may take time, requiring the doctor to be flexible with appointment times to ensure needs are met.

Considerations when viewing the results

There are a number of factors that family doctor’s offices can consider if looking to improve patient’s experiences with the length of their appointment. Some questions they could ask include:

  • Does the doctor’s appointment schedule allow enough time for a visit? What processes are in place to understand how long different appointment types take? How are appointments that require extra time accounted for?
  • Do patients know how long of a visit to expect when they request an appointment? Is the team responsible for booking patient visits equipped to ask questions that can determine the type and expected length of time for the visit?
  • Do patients feel rushed and pressured for time when the clinic is behind schedule? How are patients communicated with if the clinic is behind schedule or short staffed? Are patients kept in the loop regarding clinic delays?
  • At the time of the visit, is the doctor able to spend the amount of time needed to provide care to the patient or are there competing priorities?
  • Was the room prepared with the equipment needed for the visit? Was there enough time left at the end of the visit for the doctor to complete documentation?

For information about the HQCA’s patient experience surveys offered to individual clinics in Alberta, please visit the HQCA website.

The Health Quality Council of Alberta uses the Alberta Quality Matrix for Health as a way of organizing information and thinking around the complexity of the healthcare system. The information in this chart can be used as input to think and have conversations about primary healthcare in Alberta using the lens of the dimensions of quality shown on the right:

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Dimensions of Quality

  • Acceptability
  • Accessibility
  • Appropriateness
  • Effectiveness
  • Efficiency
  • Safety