Just Checking In - Episode 18: Patient Loyalty

Episode 18:
Facility Checklist

Patients evaluate their urgent care experiences using the same criteria as other service businesses, such as banks, restaurants, hotels, etc. But a key difference is that, as medicine, urgent care is a “blind product.” Meaning…patients generally lack the training and expertise to evaluate the quality of the actual medical care delivered. So instead, patients look for cues in the environment that infer clinical quality. The biggest cues consumers rely on are the attributes of the physical facility, such as its appearance, cleanliness, amenities, etc. Therefore, to assure your center is conveying quality, it’s necessary to have a facility checklist that managers and staff can use to assure your center properly represents your brand. Urgent care expert, Alan Ayers has more.

Just Checking In: Episode 18 - Patient Loyalty
Video Transcript

Good morning, this is Alan Ayers and I am Just Checking In here in my car in Plano, Texas to talk to you about the importance of having a facility checklist for your urgent care center.

Now, urgent care is a retail business – it’s a service business which means that consumer satisfaction in urgent care is derived by many of the same factors as say a bank or a hotel or a restaurant or any other business where you have people providing services for other people. But urgent care is a little different because it’s medicine. Because it’s medicine, that means urgent cares are delivering what we would call a “blind product.” A blind product is one in which the consumer really doesn’t have the skills, training, expertise, or experience to evaluate the quality of the outcome. But they can evaluate the quality of the experience. So by contrast, think of going to a restaurant. If you think of going to a restaurant as a diner you have the ability to evaluate not only the quality of the service you have received but also the quality of the meal. An urgent care patient really doesn’t have the expertise to evaluate the quality of say… the history and physical provided, the diagnosis, or even whether the correct prescription drug was prescribed. They can evaluate whether they feel better, or whether the problem which led them to urgent care was resolved. But by and large, because consumers cannot evaluate the quality of medical care, they evaluate the quality of the experience and then they infer that quality on the medical care provided.

So when a consumer goes to an urgent care center they are looking for cues in the environment as to the quality of the medical care provided. And the number one thing they are going to look at is the quality of the facility. So going to an urgent care facility – is it clean? Is it modern? Is there wear and tear? Is there dust? Are the magazines current? Basically everything the consumer sees, touches, feels, smells, anything that hits their senses related to that center is going to be something that they are going to consider as part of the quality of their overall urgent care experience.

Now, in the service industry there’s a concept called “management-by-walking-around.” And that means managers and employees are constantly on the lookout for things that will affect consumer perceptions. For example, in the parking lot – is there trash? Are there weeds growing the flower beds? Walking up to the front door – what does the front door look like? Are all the lights in working order? Are the hours on the signage correct? And does that sign look clean and nice? So on and so forth. So, your management team and actually all of your employees should constantly be on the lookout for things that just don’t look right, that create a negative perception.

Well, you can’t expect your managers to know everything or to be attuned to every fine detail. So the idea is to develop a checklist that managers can use when walking through the facility that basically guides them through everything the consumer will potentially see, touch, or smell, etc. Developing this checklist can also be used as a training tool to raise awareness of your employees. First of all, to raise awareness that employees need to be sensitive to consumer perceptions but also as a training tool to point out the types of things that employees need to be looking for.

The point is urgent care is a retail business. Retail delivery channel for healthcare needs to master the retail elements of the business. One of those is having a crisp, clean presentable facility. And one way your do that is by having a checklist that management and staff can use to assure that the facility is providing the ideal patient experience.

Here at Practice Velocity we are committed to helping urgent care centers. If you have any further questions about developing a facility checklist or anything urgent care related please don’t hesitate to contact us at the address you see on your screen.

Once again, this is Alan Ayers Just checking In.