Speed = Safe and Satisfied: Ingenuity and Engineering to Create Distinctive Service Experiences

June 16, 2020  |  Mike Eaton


Before COVID-19, people were often frustrated by long waits in the physician’s office and rarely on-time appointments. During the pandemic, many have avoided the physician office altogether, concerned about the risk of exposure in buildings where presumptively coronavirus-positive people gathered.

Turns out that solving for the first problem—dissatisfying long delays in the waiting room—can address the latter concern about safety.

University of Massachusetts Dartmouth professor of biology and comparative immunology Dr. Erin Bromage has advanced an equation to explain the relative risks of coronavirus exposure as follows:

“Successful Infection = Exposure to Virus x Time”

Professor Bromage argues that the risk of infection rises with the level of exposure to viral particles. The longer the exposure the greater the likelihood of becoming infected. That means every tick of the clock for someone sitting in a waiting room or hospital corridor increases that person’s chance of getting sick.

Consumers seem to intuitively know this. And doctors and hospitals should see Dr. Bromage’s equation as the impetus for ingenuity to solve for two problems: people’s dissatisfied with in-office waits and the imperative to reduce the risk of coronavirus exposure.

Some providers have already taken steps to respond. Having people wait in their car for a text message telling them the doctor is in (and ready) is one ingenious alternative to having people wait in office. While still a wait, at least it is in a safe, controlled space where people can do all the things we’ve come to do in our vehicles—eat, listen to music, make phone calls or play games on our phones.

Other providers are utilizing community paramedic teams to see people in their homes rather than bring them to the office for care. This model works especially well for people who are frequently transported by ambulance as they manage acute exacerbations of complex and chronic conditions. The paramedics can assess patient vitals, reconcile medications and assess the environment all the while reducing the amount of time at-risk patients spend with potential exposure to the virus.

We strongly recommend that health systems explore similar innovations to reduce waits and limit the exposure to the coronavirus for their patients. One way to explore this idea is to ask your team the following question:

If we set a timer on people’s actual in-building time and a goal of having 75% of primary care patients in and out within 15 minutes, how would care be impacted?

BVK Health has invested time into thinking through how health systems can innovate to minimize patient exposure to the coronavirus and can help facilitate a provocative and productive conversation around your network leadership table. To learn more, download our new e-book, Fractured, and join us for one of our Fractured Webinars we will be hosting. Click on a date option below to register:


is a Senior VP at BVK

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