In my last post I talked about the 4 A’s – access, availability, accountability and accommodation – and how they have become the cornerstones of a successful medical practice. Now it’s time for the fifth A – action – how to incorporate these elements into your medical practice or organization. First up, access. Access Patients want to be able to easily reach the highest level of care available when they need it, where they need it. And they want the freedom to choose and be involved in decisions about their care. Access is the primary reason behind the explosion in “walk-in” clinics. These businesses have capitalized on the simple fact that many patients could not get access to their regular physicians in a time they felt was reasonable. And these businesses are booming. While most patients would prefer to see their personal physician, they are often willing to give this up in exchange for access to care. So, how can you increase access? One pediatric practice I work with developed a “Fast Track” service for three hours every weekday morning, providing guaranteed walk-in care for their patients. This same practice also opened a second office in a neighboring community not so much to attract new patients, but to better serve their current patients. They realized that an increasing number of their patients were driving across a bridge and county lines to reach their practice. Unfortunately, their 10-mile trip would often take 30 minutes or more thanks to interstate traffic. So, they opened a new, full-time “community office,” allowing them to increase patient satisfaction while also increasing new patient referrals from their existing patient base. Another aspect of access involves the time and quality of the interactions your patients have with their physician or healthcare provider. Do you allow patients ample time to discuss their concerns and ask questions when they are in the office? Do you involve them in decisions about their care? How do you provide them access to information once they are home and think of additional questions? Your Web site can be invaluable in this regard. It should be more than just a brochure promoting your practice. It should be an interactive resource and tool to educate, engage and serve your current patients as well. Next up, the second A — Availability. Stay tuned.