Throw away the cookie cutters. The 4th A: Accomodation

Today’s “pro-sumer” patients expect that you will accommodate them.  They want convenience and genuine concern for their well-being – someone who understands their unique, individual challenges and makes it easy to get the personalized care they need. They don’t want cookie-cutter care.  They want customization. They want to feel engaged and personally recognized during the time they are connected with your practice. So with all the demands on your practice, how can you take the time to provide more customized care? I would argue it is not so much a matter of time, but an attitude of consideration and thoughtfulness. When you are late and make a patient wait (which inevitably happens and can be OK as long as it is not chronic), how do you and your staff handle the situation?  Does someone come out and explain the situation to the patient and keep them updated?  I often don’t mind waiting if I know my doctor had to spend extra time with another patient who had an emergency or urgent need, especially if I feel I can expect the same should I ever need it.  What I can’t accept is just sitting and waiting with no acknowledgement of my needs or sensitivity to the value of my time, no explanation of why I am waiting, or no indication of how long it might be. Do you offer to reschedule?  Do you personally apologize?  Could someone offer the patient a $5 gift card to a neighboring business to grab a cup of coffee?  Do you offer WIFI so patients can work or take care of other responsibilities while they wait?  Better yet, if it is a major delay, do you try to reach them before they even come in? Ready to really take action and incorporate the 4 A’s – access, availability, accountability and accommodation—into your practice?  Start by spending some time walking in your patient’s footsteps. What do they need? What do they want? What do they value most? What do they like and dislike about your practice? Then, take a step back and examine your current systems, identify potential opportunities and be sure to engage your staff in developing creative solutions to providing exceptional service.