It’s a Radical Idea, But “Same Day Appointments” Just Might Catch On

By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer

Sick & Tired of Waiting

Sick & Tired of Waiting

So…here’s a crazy idea for medical marketing.

What if a medical office were to offer “same day appointments?” It’s an innovative notion, but a “patient driven” appointment just might be popular and become a unique point of differentiation.

Of course we’re being facetious with that last bit. It turns out, according to a recent study, offices that offer same-day or next-day appointments reduce no-shows and increase timeliness.

The study, Advanced Access Scheduling Outcomes (Archives of Internal Medicine) did not examine the marketing benefits and advantages. But “convenience” has long had a strong appeal for those professions, practices and locations that promote the availability of immediate appointments.

We’re not talking about urgent care or walk-in clinics. This is Advanced (or “open”) Access scheduling that has been around for about a decade and is, according to Medscape, “widely adopted in the United Kingdom, the US Veterans Health Administration, and among some US [primary care] private practices.

“Under the system, physician offices attempt to offer appointments on the day a patient calls or within 24 hours. It contrasts with traditional systems, in which appointments may be made well in advance, leading to long wait times and possibly increasing the frequency of missed appointments.”

The study concludes that Advanced Access scheduling not only reduces wait time, but led to a significant reduction in no-show rates where the baseline was 15% or greater. Trends in patient satisfaction, however, varied.

Additional research was proposed to understand if Advanced Access scheduling would demonstrate improvements other measures of Quality, such as the Institute of Medicine’s The Six Domains of Health Care Quality. These are: Safe, Effective, Patient-Centered, Timely, Efficient and Equitable.

Waiting for routine appointments, Medscape says, “have been associated with negative health outcomes and increased emergency room crowding.” In our experience, timeliness is important to patient satisfaction, and more flexible, patient-driven scheduling would be popular with patients and a distinct healthcare marketing advantage.

Let us know what you think. There’s more about promoting wait times in this earlier post. And you can connect with us here to talk about improvements to your medical practice marketing plan.

Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer at Healthcare Success
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is Chief Executive Officer of Healthcare Success, one of the nation's leading healthcare and digital marketing agencies. Over the past 20 years, Stewart has marketed and consulted for over 1,000 healthcare clients, ranging from practices and hospitals to multi-billion dollar corporations. A frequent speaker, Stewart has shared his expertise at over 200 venues nationwide. As an author and expert resource, Stewart has also written for many leading industry publications, including the 21,000 subscriber Healthcare Success Insight blog. Stewart also co-authored, "Cash-Pay Healthcare: Start, Grow & Perfect Your Cash-Pay Healthcare Business." Stewart began his career with leading advertising agencies, including J. Walter Thompson, where he marketed Fortune 500 clients such as Wells Fargo and Bally's Total Fitness.

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