Like all business enterprises, healthcare has its niches—we call them specialties. There was a time when urgent care was definitely considered a niche market, a supplement to traditional primary or emergency room care. No one could imagine that it might become the dynamic industry it is today.
Many primary care physicians may be surprised by the number of their patients that choose urgent care for its convenience. This migration is only a reflection of today’s consumer, who wants non-emergency healthcare to be as handy as picking up coffee at the drive-through window.
While this is an exaggeration, it’s not far from the truth. Patients do want to be sure the clinic they choose provides quality care, but they also want it to fit in their schedule with as little life-disruption as possible.
But what if your patients had the opportunity to see their familiar family physician on-demand? They would not only receive the benefit of the doctor that watched them grow up and gave them their soccer physical in tenth grade, but they could also be seen at a time that works on their schedule, without disrupting their life.
This is not only possible, it’s happening.
Instead of competing against urgent care clinics, they’re offering the same on-demand services, plus all the benefits that come with continuity of care.
Through the use of technology that allows patients to make online appointments, see their place in line, and arrive at just the right time to avoid hours in the waiting room, primary care clinics can integrate on-demand care into their practice.
Online Appointment Setting
While offering online scheduling is becoming more common in the traditional healthcare setting, it is just the essential first step in adopting technology that responds to a patient’s need for on-demand care.
There are marketplace solutions offering online appointment-setting software that can direct traffic to your website when people look on the internet for a doctor close-by or look for you by name. If you choose this solution, you won’t have to make any changes to your website—but you may have to compete with other physicians who adopt the same solution. The other choice is to find a partner that offers integration with your website, offering scheduling on your clinic home page. This “white-label” option also offers other benefits you may not have considered.
To take the next step in becoming an on-demand primary care clinic, be fully transparent with patient queuing. Not only should your patients be able to schedule online, they should be able to do it in a way that seamlessly slips them into a real-time queue that notifies them if there are any delays so they can adjust their schedule and avoid waiting.
When patients search online and go to your website, they can save their spot in line and see the current estimated wait time. Information for all patients, whether they have had an appointment for weeks or just scheduled, is integrated into one queue, so the estimated wait time is accurate—or at the very least, their place in line.
This is an ideal solution for patients who are loyal to a specific provider. Not only do they get to see the doctor they want to see, but they can do it without waiting in a crowded waiting room.
Some white-label solutions, like our very own Clockwise.MD, also message patients when delays are expected, so they can adjust their schedule. The upside is, all your patients benefit—even those that made their appointment by phone can check wait times to see if they have to hurry or can take their time.
Expand the Niche
While healthcare professionals tend to see the different vehicles for the delivery of healthcare separately, patients don’t. They want the same level of service from their urgent care provider as they get at their regular doctor’s office, and vice-versa. Now you can give them what they’re looking for. On-demand care, from a doctor they’ve trusted for years.