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The Value of Time

the value of time

“Do The Most Important Things”

The pandemic changed the way many of us view how we spend time; the impact of the past two years was well summarized in Wall Street Journal article on work and life called You Have Only So Much Time. Are You Using It Right?

Those interviewed for the story expressed what amounts to a wake-up call. With all the tumult in our lives (gun violence, inflation, politics, climate change…), people are beginning to re-think their to-do lists and recognize the trap set by thinking that greater productivity is the answer to our problems.

This reset involves acknowledging all that is clamoring for our attention and, uncomfortable as it may seem, ignoring much of it to focus on what’s important.

What’s critical here is to recognize that this applies not just to us but to those patients walking through your door each day. They too are assessing how they spend time and what they value.  That is why I recommend you focus on their investment of time as much as you do on their investment of money (i.e. the fees you charge).  

Time, Attention & Money in the Medical Practice

In my book, I reference an Experience Economy concept that “time is the new money.”  Time is the currency of experiences; we evaluate experiences in part based on how well our time was utilized. This is why I am adamant about the need to blow up the waiting room, an outdated environment that screams “our time is more valuable than yours; you should wait until we are ready for you.”

We don’t tolerate that thinking in our consumer lives. We shouldn’t expect patients to put up with it either just because they are in a medical environment.  Practices that lead with patient experience recognize that they are competing for the patient in terms of their time and attention just as much as you are for their pocketbook.

If you find yourself wanting more patients to say “yes” to your clinical recommendations, especially for elective procedures, then you need to take a close look at each of these dynamics:

Time – Have you created an environment and process that leads the patient to say “that was time well spent”?

Attention – Does each aspect of what you communicate command their attention? If not, it is
too easy for the consumer to shift their attention from you to their smartphone.

Money – Do your fees reflect the value you provide, not just clinically (i.e. the outcome), but also experientially?

That last parenthetical phrase is perhaps the most important. Most people coming to see you either have the money or can obtain financing for a procedure. What they will remember long after their procedure is not the clinical result but rather how they were made to feel.

Final Thoughts on Time & Improving Patient Experience

Remember this as you wonder what it is that makes some patients say “yes” and others say “I need to think about it” or “no thanks.” Valuing their time as much as their money is one way to help more patients appreciate what you offer and will increase the likelihood of their moving forward.

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