Sharing The Practice Management Love Part 4: Office Hours

Before I get in to my next post, I wanted to thank everybody for the overwhelming response I’ve gotten…

What…?  Those emails weren’t for me? But… Why doesn’t somebody tell me these things!

Sorry readers… my bad. Let’s move on; shall we?

Foto courtersy: shawnblog
Foto courtesy: shawnblog under the Creative Commons Lic

Let The Expansion Begin

As some people decide to cut back, I think this is an opportunity to expand the business by looking for ways to become more accessible to patients.

Our practice decided to become more accessible by expanding our office hours. We used to open until 6pm a couple of days a week.  We now open until 7pm every day. And let me tell you, our patients love it! You should see their eyes when we tell them they can make a late appointment.

But I want to go home…

My doctors would go home after a long day, but most days, they would still have to take numerous calls after they left the office. So, even though they were home, they were really still working.

We all know we don’t get paid for giving advice over the phone (yes, I know some payers are starting to pay for phone calls and some practices charge the patient directly, but it is still not a widespread). Hence the reason we decided to expand the hours was so we could continue seeing patients that the doctors would have otherwise given free advice over the phone. Besides, the doctors were already leaving late as it is with all the paperwork and callbacks.

We believe that not only does opening late improve our patient’s experience with the practice, but it also helps us keep revenue with us. If a parent calls at 6:45pm, we tell the parent to bring the patient in instead of waiting until the next day, or worse for the parent, take the child to the ER or worse for us, goes to a MinuteClinic.

The best part about expanding the hours was that we didn’t have to ask the staff or the doctors to work more hours. We simply rearranged the schedule and staggered the staff’s time in order to expand the hours the office is open.

Other benefits include freeing up appointment slots for Saturdays. We know that parents do not want to take time off work, so they always request Saturday appointments. But with the expanded hours, we take some of the late slots for well child visits and now parents don’t have to take time off from work. When we offer parents a 6:30pm appointment on Thursday or an 8:30am on Saturday, they’ll usually take the 6:00pm one.

I’m convinced expanding our hours was one of the best things we’ve done in a while. For starters, parents appreciate it. And from a marketing stand point it helps us differentiate ourselves because besides the nearby urgent care, we’re the only ones in the area that has expanded hours.

Until they read this post.

Competition?

Expanding office hours become more critical  if you have MinuteClinics (or some variation thereof) nearby. What better way to persuade patients to come see you instead of a mid-level provider that doesn’t really have a relationship with the patient than offering the added hours. With expanded hours, what does MinuteClinic offer that you don’t? Nothing!

Remember, private practices are in the service industry. And just like any other business, we have to stay competitive. Expanding hours is just one of the many ways we can differentiate ourselves from the rest and become more competitive.

Next post I’m going to be talking about patient collections and some of the things we’ve implemented in order to minimize the amount of patient A/R, thus improve cash flow.

@PediatricInc

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