We’ve written about the pros & cons of appointment scheduling less than we would have guessed. One of our most recent entries on the subject was posted all the way back in January 2011, and didn’t technically have anything to do with retail clinics.
Target is alone among the “name” retail clinic operators to try appointment scheduling – and it abandoned the practice quite some time ago. ZoomCare, a clinics operator in Oregon and Washington, does offer appointment scheduling (and we feel does it the best).
That’s why we’re intrigued that TakeCare Health has decided to give scheduling a go (TakeCare Clinics Now Offering Real-Time Appointment Scheduling Option, 1/17/12 Drug Store News).
Walgreens’ Take Care Health Systems, which operates more than 350 clinics inside select Walgreens locations across the country, has announced that patients now can schedule appointments online or in the clinic.
Here’s a link to TakeCare’s new appointment scheduler (curiously, not provided in their media release).
We have to say, we like its design. You pick the reason for your visit from a list of options, select your clinic – or, even more conveniently, your location, and distance you’re prepared to travel – and the general time of day you’d like an appointment. Press enter and you’re presented the open visit times for any location within your selected travel distance.
Things we’re unclear about: Does the scheduler play nice with iPhone and/or other smartphone devices? We didn’t/couldn’t test that critically important capability. Close to one-third of visitors to our homely clinics locator are visiting from smartphones these days; we would guess the share is greater for actual retail clinics operators. Our untested concern is that TakeCare’s application seems like it would require a smartphone visitor to move through more steps than smartphone app users will typically endure patiently. We hope we are incorrect about that.
Things we’re less keen about: when we first visited Take Care’s site, we selected a clinic location to see its available appointment times. It was lunchtime at the clinic we selected but the display informed us only that the location was “Closed”. Not “Closed for lunch until [X time]” – just “Closed”. Psst, TakeCare: we’d advise you not to provoke your would-be visitors to assume the location has shuttered its doors & windows, for the day or maybe forever. Be specific about what “Closed” means.
In sum, TakeCare’s appointment scheduling tool isn’t quite as easy to use as ZoomCare’s – but it’s not at all shabby.
What do you think? Is retail clinic scheduling a feature worth featuring for clinics operators?