Background: Patient waiting time has been recognized as an important indicator for determining the quality of healthcare services offered by health facilities. Waiting time is strongly related to patients’ satisfaction with the care received at the hospital in general.
Methods: This is a descriptive cross-sectional study carried out in February 2018 among new patients attending general out-patient department (GOPD) of randomly selected hospitals in South-Western Nigeria. A structured pre-tested questionnaire was used to elicit information from 223 patients who were recruited into the study using a convenience sampling method.
Results: The average total clinic waiting time (TCWT) from entry to seeing a medical doctor was 137.02 ± 53.64 minutes. Only 6 (2.7%) met the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommendation of having at least 90% of patients seen within 30 minutes of their scheduled appointment in contrast to 193 (86.5%) of respondents desiring to wait not more than 30 minutes for whatever reason before been attended to by the doctor. Although, the level of satisfaction was high (81.2%) in this study, patients who waited longer (>180 min) are more likely to be dissatisfied with services rendered in the OPDs (χ² = 20.104, df = 1, P = 0.001). Factors such as few health personnel (81/120) and having an insurance cover contributed significantly to the waiting time (χ² = 19.54, df = 1, P = 0.001).
Conclusion: In a competitively managed health care environment, patient waiting time play an increasingly important role in a clinic’s ability to attract new business. Efforts therefore, should be made not only to reduce the patient waiting time, but health managers should invest in resources and activities that ensure a productive use of the time patients spend in the process of seeking healthcare services.
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