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When you head into a walk in urgent care, you know you’ll be waiting for some amount of time. Probably longer than you’d like. But please. Don’t insult the patient with “it will be a few minutes’” when it’s not. And couldn’t possibly be. We’ve all done it. Waiting in the reception area for about an hour. And then moving to a nurse’s station to take vitals. Then moving into the treatment room to wait another hour for the physician. Or longer. What’s the big secret with the waiting time for healthcare treatment? You wouldn’t expect this anyplace else. You’d know how long you had to wait.

Why is this happening with healthcare? Because we’re sick and need help. We’re vulnerable. But this makes it even more important to communicate wait times. You wouldn’t wait three hours to get your hair done (well… I might…maybe) or for a financial consultant at your bank or your CPA. But you will for your healthcare services. 

Marketers need to address this. All of your hard work with your brand – marketing messaging, branding, media, events, social and public relations – unravels with this front line experience. There’s a great opportunity to change this and make it a competitive advantage for your healthcare organization. The front line is your brand ambassador. It’s the first and last touch.

Shift your organization’s mindset to retail. Use technology. Mobile. Electronic lobby displays (think outpatient surgery centers). Go live. Have a patient coordinator that acts as a receptionist. Have your patient’s first and last touch reinforce your brand and culture. Being transparent translates into respect of their time and lives.