It’s Considered An Acceptable Standard That Patients Will Be Okay With
Waiting To Receive Their Needed Services (Lesson 2)

In 2013 TimeTrade published a study of the retail industry and found that 70% of businesses reported that their customers were willing to wait no longer than five minutes before abandoning the services and the stores.1

The study revealed that, “the most important factor in terms of a shopper’s opinion of service is waiting time, either at checkout or in being acknowledged when they need help.”

Imagine how this translates into the healthcare sector, where patients are often not able to walk out. How frustrating must that be? Four hours to get a broken arm looked at is never going to be a positive experience.

The reality is that, even though there will always be patients who are not in a position to walk out, many patients will leave and find alternative healthcare providers. One problem that your organisation faces is that you don’t have data on how frequently this happens. This is because these patients don’t engage with you.

So how do you stop people from walking away?

One Size Fits All?

Once again, the thinking shouldn’t necessarily be around maintaining margins but just providing the service, period. If you’re doing exactly what the patient is asking for and you’re doing it in a way that the patient is asking for it, then they will have a good customer experience.

Good customer experience will lead to more patients coming in, and growth will occur because the services are good. Not because you’re providing your definition of what the best service looks like, which is based around your margins and your targets, but because you’re providing the best service for each individual patient.

For some patients, faster is better. Some patients want a private room and clean sheets every day, or they want a nurse-to-patient ratio of six so that when they push the buzzer, they get their meal. The “best” is going to be different for each patient.

Case Study: A Moving Story

When the United States Air Force jet fighter program was in its infancy in the 1950s, they had approximately 5,000 pilots on the books. They took all the measurements of these pilots, including head circumference, arm length, leg length, height, and weight.

The thinking was that if they worked out the average then they could design the perfect cockpit for these pilots. Once they had got all the information, they went through and designed the cockpit around the average measurements.

The only problem was that out of 5,000 pilots, not one actually matched all the criteria of the “average” pilot. There was not one single “average” person.

They quickly realised that they needed to rethink their approach. And so they invented the adjustable chair.

So, when you get in your car and can move your chair forward and backward and up and down and tilt it back, this is the result of the solution the US Air Force created to meet the needs of their pilots. They created a chair that could move on rails and still be secure because there was no such thing as the “average” pilot; that person just didn’t exist.

When you are accounting for the individual, you literally need to create solutions that are movable. You have to be able to move.

The thinking should be, “How can we deliver our services in such a way that the customer experience is valuable to more customers?” The idea is not to continue evolving the one thing that you’re doing right now, but to make it wider.

“One size fits all” is a worrying concept in any context, but when it comes to healthcare, it is nothing short of terrifying.


1 “Retail Industry Executive Survey.” TimeTrade.com. TimeTrade Systems, Inc. 2013. Web. https://web.timetrade.com/files/content_resource/TT_Retail-Exec-Survey-Brief.pdf