The Hearing Healthcare “Model” for the Future: Retail or Medical?

Last week there was an article in the New York Times{{1}}[[1]] http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/02/health/policy/02consumer.html [[1]]about waiting times in physicians offices.  In the Hearing Health Industry we sometimes divide ourselves into a “medical” model or a “retail” model.  There are strengths in each and we should draw from both, but in terms of staying on time with appointments the retail model will bode well for us in the long run.

Most retail models though do not run by appointment (I am thinking of Verizon or Tiffany & Co).  They will be on a first come first serve basis, but while it is your turn, good customer service will do everything they can to make sure all of your needs and desires are met.  I do not think my offices would be efficient this way, I do like having appointments, but people should not be kept waiting.  There are some patients of physicians who are starting to bill the doctors office if they are kept waiting more than 30 minutes past their appointment time.

In my offices, yes I combine both models, but it is very rare that an appointment starts 5 minutes late.  I have mentioned before that we have walk-in hours for cleanings and checks, there is no programming of hearing aids or one-on-one counseling,but other things do not need a 15 or 30 minute appointment.   This has helped free up time for the more complex situations.

My biggest struggle is to stay flexible.  I want my schedule set in  the morning and not change throughout the day.  After 20 years you would think I would have gotten past this, but I am still working my way through this.  I have been flexible in trying new things to keep us on time with satisfied employees and patients.


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