Practice Notes

Channeling Chipotle with 'have it your way' scheduling

by Cassie Dormond

The Washington Post recently published an article on the explosion of "have it your way" fast-casual cuisine, deeming the phenomenon "Chipotlification."

Chipotle’s model is straightforward—diners first choose between a burrito and a rice bowl, and then pass through a line choosing whichever toppings they desire to complete their meal. The approach, says the Post, capitalizes on consumers’ desire to have exactly "what they want in under five minutes."

So what can medical groups learn from the Chipotle model?

How One Medical Group mirrors the approach

You could argue that One Medical Group has effectively "chipotlified" primary care appointment scheduling. While One Medical does not offer appointments within five minutes, it does offer same-day access to a provider. The organization’s online portal allows customizable, “have it your way,” appointment scheduling for patients.

Time and attention: The value patients are willing to pay for

To schedule an appointment online, patients first designate whether they would like to see their primary care team or any available provider. Once they have made this initial decision, the portal presents three further levels of customization:

  • "I want to be seen for...": Patients select one of five potential appointment types. The appointments are broken out both by length (for example, “brief, 15 minutes”) and reason for the visit (for example, “physician exam and pap smear”). To improve self-scheduling accuracy, the portal provides examples of appropriate issues to be covered during each appointment type.
  • "I want to be seen on...": Patients can choose either the first available appointment slot, or a specific date.
  • "I want to cover...": A free-form text box prompts patients to list the top issues to be covered during the visit.

Truly patient-driven scheduling

The "chipotlification" of primary care appointment scheduling means that patients are empowered to make tradeoffs between seeing a specific provider versus being seen on an earlier date. Granting patients access to these tools is one way that practices can compete with the types of same-day access providers that we've profiled in the past.

What your practice can learn from the airport: The power of self-service check-in

Providers and schedulers win, too. The appointment scheduling process gives providers the details they need to anticipate the types of issues to be covered during the day’s appointments. Breaking visits into five distinct types gives practices the platform they need to build their own benchmarks for appropriate appointment lengths.

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