Taking Action Part II — Improving Availability

In my last two posts, I talked about the 4 A’s of effective medical marketing today – access, availability, accountability and accommodation. Today, let’s delve more into #2 – availability and how you can incorporate it into your practice or organization. Availability Do you offer convenient appointment times?  How long do your patients typically wait both to secure an appointment and in the office?  Are your physicians and staff approachable and easy to talk to?  Do they handle phone calls in an unhurried and compassionate manner? Offering non-traditional appointment times may not be a new idea, but it is certainly one whose time has come.  Our world no longer operates on the simple 9-5 day it once did.  Increasingly, thanks in large part to technology, we live in a 24-7 world, and as a result, today’s “pro-sumers” need and expect additional availability.  Of course, no one expects you to put up the “Open 24 hours” sign — although they might like it. However, many forward-thinking medical practices now offer non-traditional appointments times — early in the morning, at lunchtime, early evening and even Saturdays – at least on certain days, based on the specific needs of their patient population. Does your practice serve a large number of professionals who need an appointment on their way to or home from work or on their lunch break? Or do you serve a large senior population that doesn’t want to be on the road during rush hour?  Do you have a large number of pediatric patients who need to be seen after school hours or on the weekend? Does your scheduling reflect these needs? Many of the practices I have worked with have successfully implemented non-traditional appointment times and service, increasing their patients’ satisfaction without increasing individual physician or staff hours. It just takes some creativity and flexibility, and often some surveying and experimenting to determine the exact formula that works best for you.