Waiting at home for a delivery that comes just at the end of the time slot or, worse, not at all, is an all too relatable modern frustration. Another common vexation is sitting in reception at the doctor’s practice watching the clock tick past 11am for a 10.15am appointment.
In such times more than a few have considered billing the delivery company or medical practice for time wasted. After all, time is money.
Would waiting times improve if doctors compensated their patients? Most likely the answer is no, however, unknowingly, doctors are already paying for long wait times, so could compensation actually be a money saver?
There are many unseen costs of extensive wait times. Patients concerned with lengthy delays may avoid booking appointments or change practices. What is the lost long-term value of such a patient? The potential domino effects of losing these patients, receiving a host of negative online reviews and having word of mouth referrals become word of mouth deterrents is impermissible for the modern practice.
Waiting times are difficult to control but medical practices can utilise internal marketing to combat the potential negatives of lengthy delays. External marketing is designed to attract new patients whilst internal marketing is focused on repeat business and customer satisfaction.
Internal marketing is about maximising patient retention through consistent communication and high quality patient care. Social media and online reviews are double-edged swords, on one side they make it easier than ever for practices to gain new referrals and attract new patients. On the other, the bad ones can be repelling. It is the job of your internal marketing strategy to simultaneously dull one side and sharpen the other.
With wait times on the rise, practices need to give patients reasons to stay with them and keep booking appointments. Sometimes long wait times are unavoidable so the key is to make their entire experience positive. Healthcare has become increasingly competitive and perhaps compensating patients for long waits is a worthwhile consideration for patient retention.
Compensation could be as simple as improving the waiting area to make delays less of an inconvenience. Free, fast and reliable WiFi is one such change that could impede the onset of ‘wait anger’ and keep patients satisfied. Whatever the strategy, the important thing is to effectively communicate what you are offering to your patients.
Social media and newsletters are a good place to communicate with your patients. If you aren’t telling your patients what you offer then how are they to know you do offer it? It could be the difference between customer retention and customer attrition. Your patients are a captive audience and your practice must take advantage of their attention by repeatedly delivering the important messages. ‘We’re working hard to improve our wait times – this is what you could do to help – in the mean time this is what we have implemented to show how much we value you as our patient.’ Say it often enough and your patients will remember it.
A good marketing strategy starts from inside the practice. By making patient experience positive, your internal marketing strategy will enhance the effectiveness of your external campaigns, aiding the growth of your practice.
Call Vividus Marketing today to see how internal marketing could help your practice mitigate the hidden costs of long wait times.