We frequently are told that a startup urgent care center has a great idea, they are going to post their wait times right online. It sounds like a great idea, with a direct view toward good customer service. People have the information and can decide whether to come in now or later. This afternoon we sampled the websites for two urgent care centers that post wait times. Snippets from their websites are attached. This afternoon’s research seemed to indicate that both clinics were quite backed up. Does anyone seriously believe that very many website visitors actually visited the clinic today? On the other hand, if your goal is to attenuate visit volumes on busy days, could you come with a better way to discourage clinic visits?
It’s not a new idea, and we have generally discouraged placing wait times online for several reasons:
Patients aren’t so much worried about the wait times for everyone else in a clinic, they are really concerned about what their own wait time will be. Is there a way to control that? Yes. Practice Velocity’s client clinics use our ZipPass® product for FREE. With the click of a mouse, visitors to the urgent care website (and visitors to the center’s FindUrgentCare.com directory page) can “get in line, online.” The software automatically uses the algorithm selected by the center to determine the next available appointment. This accomplishes three important goals for the urgent care center:
If the idea of appointments (even same-day appointments) is foreign to your conception of an urgent care, maybe you can look at it this way. Patients are not really making “appointments,” they are simply getting in line from their home or office. Rather than wait in your waiting room, they can wait in the comfort of their home or office. You see more patients. You see them more efficiently. They get the convenience of shorter waits. It seems like a win for everyone involved.