As the service delivery experience of patients wanting to see a GP – any GP – at their local surgery continues to slide (one in nine people cannot get a GP appointment) the volume of digital and traditional advertising from private access providers is growing. This is a very clear indication that the demand for private appointments exists and indeed is rapidly growing.
Why? Patients miss 12 million GP appointments a year, at a cost of £160m to the nearly bankrupt NHS, while GPs are so overburdened with the worried well (see this week’s Dispatches on Channel 4) they simply cannot provide the service they used to.
Dental practices couldn’t be in a better position to exploit this opportunity: not only do many have the infrastructure to provide seven-day GP appointments by hiring GPs on an associate basis, but they can guarantee that patients will see the same practitioner every time and get an appointment when they need one, resulting in a far more personal and valued relationship.
If a dental practice with 3k patients were to offer private GP appointments and only five per cent of them went for it, that’s 150 appointments.
At, say, £90 this creates a useful additional revenue of £13.5k, but remember this is before the proposition has been opened up to a wider market through your digital presence and outside signage and, of course, the practice’s connections through existing patients who will talk to their friends and relations.
There is a valuable halo for the whole practice in offering GP appointments: it increases the importance and capability of the practice in the existing and future patients’ minds and is very powerful in attracting new patients both medical and dental, not to mention being a significant differentiator from your local competition.
How easy would it be to get a young GP with a large mortgage to work one evening a week on an associate basis? Our experience suggests this would be not be an issue, particularly in urban areas and medium sized towns.
I would like to hear from principals who are interested in pursuing this idea – get in touch with me on 0845 299 7209 and firstname.lastname@example.org, or connect with me on LinkedIn.
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Jonathan Fine is Lead coach: sales and marketing at Breathe Business.