In an article on retail clinics from HealthLeaders Media, author and marketing consultant Anthony Cirillo tackles a topic with the kind of provocation and wake ’em up challenge that makes him my kind of guy.
"Is it is any wonder retail clinics, with all their convenience, are going to take off? …….. but when you talk about customer convenience, these clinics have it all over your doctor’s office. So of course the knee jerk reaction is to try to legislate against them, with the American Medical Association taking the lead. The right course would be to realize that the marketplace will win. People will want these. People do want these. So it’s time to learn some lessons from your new competitors.
Here are some of the lessons Cirillo proposes that physicians in practice learn (which I wholeheartedly endorse, and have urged practicing physicians to consider):
"Extended Hours. For some reason, physicians still don’t understand that people work during the day. Company sick policies revolve around their schedule. The winners are those who can see patients on the patient’s schedule. Offices should routinely be opened for 12 hours so that a physician, NP and PA are always available. Physicians can overlap schedules like pharmacists do in order to provide full coverage.
House Calls. ……Talk about convenience. If you want to compete, these can no longer be viewed as a novelty but a necessity. I have a physician friend in Italy. While I tease him about his limited office hours, truth is he is on the road in the Italian countryside tending to his patients all day (PK addition – here is an article about house call medical practices)
Concierge Services. Give out your cell phone number. Consult via the Internet. Institute a pick up and drop off service for elderly clients. Actually return phone calls. Provide your email. See people at their appointment time or compensate them in some way and likewise institute rules for late patients. Adding other services after asking your patients what they want and consulting with your front line staff. Some may label these concierge services and want to charge extra for them. Perhaps they are simply the right things to do for your patients."
Which of you entrepreneurial physicians is going to respond to the gauntlet being thrown down by the retail clinic chains?
And how do you plan to do it?