There is a huge difference between what healthcare practitioners think is required to schedule an appointment and what actually happens. Take for example, a mother who thinks her child needs to see the doctor. Viewed from the perspective of the pediatrician’s office, I don’t think PCPs believe calling the doctor requires any more work than, say, calling your mother.
We could extrapolate the example to include how this process may look from the perspective of a single mom with one or more other children that she has to get to school, but that would make my head explode.
PCPs may be surprised to learn that by the time all is said and done, a dozen or so steps are required, and those steps can take the better part of a day for the parent to complete.
Suppose school starts at 7:45. If your child is sick, you wait at home until the pediatrician’s office opens at 8, and then you begin to dial. You and dozens of other mothers are all dialing at the same time because you are trying to grab one of the handfuls of open appointments. If the pediatrician’s office is like the one we use, you continue to hit the speed dial until you no longer receive a busy signal. The appointment lottery.
If you are fortunate enough to win the appointment lottery, you then dress your child and take him or her to school. Don’t forget to write the note explain why the child is late. Then the mom heads to work; she also will be late, but she probably doesn’t need a note. A few hours later she leaves work to pick up the child from school to go to the doctor. After the exam, the mom drops off the prescription at the pharmacy, drops off the child at home (assuming there is someone at home to watch the child. If nobody is at home, the mom misses work for the rest of the day). Mom returns to work, and at the end of the day she returns to the pharmacy to pick up the prescription.
I mapped out the process based on what we had to go through last week to schedule an appointment for our son. This is what it looks like.
- 7:45 a.m. – School starts
- 8 a.m. – Doctor’s office opens
- 8:15 a.m. – Drop child at school
- 8:45 a.m. – Go to work
- 10:30 a.m. – Leave work
- 11 a.m. – Pick up child
- 11:30 a.m. – Visit doctor
- 12:30 p.m. – Drop off prescription
- 12:45 p.m. – Drop child at home
- 1:15 p.m. – Return to work
- 6 p.m. – Pick up medicine
It may surprise you to learn, however, that there is a simpler solution. A solution that requires exactly one step instead of 12.
The mom turns to her child and says, “Let’s go to CVS and get doughnuts, and while we are there, we will see what the nice lady at the Minute Clinic thinks is going on with your ear.”
The only easy button is the Minute Clinic. If you want to compete, you need to redesign this basic process, and you need to include what your customers go through when you do it.