Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Doctor Critic Is In

I'm temporarily out of the restaurant critic business, but that doesn't mean I can't be a doctor's office critic, does it?

I had a doctor's appointment, and for the 3rd time in a row I had to wait at least 45 minutes past my appointment time to be seen.

Using the principle of giving the business a chance to explain/fix the issue, I actually brought up the delays with the doctor. I got a variety of reasonable explanations: I was being seen in a temporary location that didn't have enough space for them; they had an especially unusual case today that took longer than expected; they were short staffed, etc.

And while I appreciate the explanation, it's still not good to have a business that consistently disregards their own appointment times by so much. Not to mention, if I showed up 45 minutes past my time, I'm sure they'd be more than rightfully annoyed.

I couldn't help brainstorming a bit with the doctor for ways to fix the situation - and of course there aren't any obvious ones. The best I could come up with, and I do think it's a solid idea, is this:

Setup WiFi in the office, and purchase 3 or 4 iPads for the waiting room. Rather than having people leaf through old magazines, they can play with cutting edge technology, get lost on YouTube, watch TV or check their work e-mail. With these devices, waiting around for 45 minutes would go from a pain to a joy.

Heck, if all you did was setup StumbleUpon, on the device you'd be 90% there to a waiting room of distracted (and happy) folks.

At about $500 a piece, the iPad is a bargain for a doctor's office (consider a an instrument stand costs the same amount). And an iPad has a more pick up and play with feel to it, than does a laptop.

The doctor immediately got the value an iPad could have - but also found reasons it wouldn't work (too fragile, kids are likely to break them, etc.).

So, I don't expect to see iPads at the office anytime soon. In fact, I don't expect to see any innovation in the customer service department anytime too soon. What a shame this is because the only thing standing in their way is the mindset that this waiting time problem can't be solved. And of course, what will make their competition successful is that they won't have this belief.

It's worth noting that my primary care physician is actually quite good at innovating. They offer non-technical solutions, like being able to call in from 8:00-8:45am every morning to talk to a doctor for a few minutes (a wonderful compromise between making an appointment you don't need; and avoiding an appointment you should have made) as well as technical ones, like a new fangled electronic check-in. So, innovation is definitely alive and well in the medical world.

1 comment:

  1. I think you should be able to call in and ask how far behind they are. Then they take your name so they know when you "came in" (ie called) so you don't lose your place in "line". Then either they should say "we'll be ready for you in approx 45 mins" so you can show up in maybe 30-35 mins (just in case they were over their estimate). Or, even better, have them call you about 10 mins before they'll be ready to have you come over. They need those vibrating beepers like some restaurants used to have.