As a society we've evolved from an agrarian to an industrial-age goods based economy and finally moved to services and knowledge working. With no where to go after services the next level is to up the ante and create extra levels of service and experience in order to differentiate and create more profit margin for levels of service and to separate you from your competition. This can be seen easily from companies like Starbucks or Nordstrom.
The idea of "experience" has developed a cottage consulting industry and there are many excellent resources out there to learn more. The book, The Experience Economy may have been one of the first to introduce the topic. Forrester Research offers some preeminent thought leadership:
And of course there are many others that I enjoy reading and watching including Bruce Temkin and Mark Hurst, founder of Good Experience.
Mark is someone I have been reading for a few years, mostly, because I like his straight-forward perspective, insights and tools on good experience on all matters. He also has a great list of online games that has come in very handy when trying to occupy my 6 year-old daughter on a Saturday afternoon.
He recently wrote about his experience at the doctor that really struck me. I recommend that you read it in full here and watch the accompanying video.
Mark Hurst at Gel Health from Gel Conference on Vimeo.
The experience of going to the doctor has not changed substantially in over 30 years. My own experience is mixed at best. My doctor makes me come in to see him to for a prescription refill request. I've have been on the allergy medicine Allegra-D for many, many years. Nothing has changed that requires me to come in other than his need to bill my insurance for a visit.
What can be done to improve the overall experience? It seems doctor's could make small changes that would make a big difference:
1. Extend the time with the patient from a low of 7 minutes on average to a guaranteed 20.
2. Online appointment set-up and reminders
3. Pro-active follow-up. Call the patient a few days after a visit to see how they are doing.
4. Call backs for questions of all kinds the same day. I think people will take a call after 5 pm regarding their health.
5. Active email answering for basic questions.
6. Move to social media for patient contact
That's just a few simple ideas. The point being is that to grow business the general practitioner needs to sprint to a better service model and at least begin to compare to the service that I receive from my dentist, who has done a great job of moving to an experience and convenience approach and other service providers; or be left in the dust to disintermediation from big box retailer's minute clinics, nurse practitioners with prescribing rights and the Internet.
They can do this by embracing multiple communication channels and offering more time and better service.
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