Background: Patients’ waiting time for healthcare services is identified as one of the key measurements of an effective health system. This factor has an important role in patients’ satisfaction as well. One factor that is related to the waiting time is patients’ punctuality.
Objectives: the objective of this study was assessing the effect of patients’ and physicians’ punctuality on outpatients’ waiting time.
Methods: This was a cross-sectional study. The study population was outpatients that were admitted in clinics of a general non-educational hospital. 3500 samples were selected from all clinics. The sampling method was stratified randomized method. Samples were included after taking the informed consent. Data gathered by check lists that recorded the patients work flow at the clinic and the time of arrival to and departure of each station.
Results: About 34% of patients had appointment that 98.5% of them were unpunctual. The correlation of patient unpunctuality (positive and negative) and their waiting time indicated that these variables had positive correlation (P<0.001). Assessing the correlation of physicians’ punctuality and patients’ waiting time indicated that these variables also had positive correlation (P<0.001).
Conclusion: Appointment systems are very useful in controlling patients waiting time. This study identified that patient’s unpunctuality will increase patients waiting time. By the way negative punctuality will affect waiting time more that positive punctuality. Other important findings of this study were revealing the relation of physicians’ unpunctuality and patients’ waiting time. Punctuality of patients and providers are very important in the performance of appointment system in outpatient settings.