It might not be easy to implement, but some physician practices are guaranteeing patients same-day appointments in order to compete with a growing number of retail clinics, urgent care clinics and telemedicine services.
There’s been a steady increase in the time it takes for new patients to get doctor appointments, due in part to a physician shortage, a Merritt Hawkins survey found earlier this year. Another survey from the staffing firm found that the average time to schedule a new patient appointment has increased by 30% since 2014 in 15 major metropolitan areas and now stands at 24 days.
At a time when many consumers balk at the idea of waiting days or weeks for any kind of service, giving patients fast and easy access to a doctor can be a competitive edge.
And CVS Caremark just upped the ante when it comes to competing for convenience-seeking consumers with its announcement that it is buying health insurer Aetna and will expand health services at its retail pharmacies.