Pursuing Patient Access: Explore Strategies to Maximize Value for Patients, Providers, and Health Systems

Patient access is a complex issue that plagues provider groups of all types, many of which acknowledge opportunities for improvement but are not sure how best to address it. Patients want to access the care they need promptly, but managing patient access is more multifaceted than provider availability alone. Throwing resources at the problem by increasing staff or providers can prove costly with minimal return on investment. It is crucial to address how a provider practice team manages touch points and schedules to coordinate service access more effectively. By engaging providers in establishing operational consistency, organizations can prioritize patient access goals and develop solutions to drive meaningful improvements for the patient, provider, and health system.

Primary factors that restrict access include:

  • Provider practices that have integrated with larger systems but hold on to some of their existing processes/operating standards
  • Lack of actionable data to drive change and monitor improvement
  • Centralized versus decentralized patient access functions
  • Restrictive and complicated scheduling rules or algorithms
  • Not empowering staff (or enough staff) to make scheduling decisions
  • Challenging patient populations with a high number of no-shows and cancellations
  • Consumer healthcare preferences and generational impact on loyalty

Strategies and solutions that can improve patient access:

  • Engage physician leaders in managing patient access consistently across the organization
  • Enhance provider scheduling efficiency with uniform criteria and protocols
  • Improve the utilization of scheduling resources/personnel to manage provider schedules
  • Reduce un-booked appointment slots and gaps on provider schedules
  • Establish a consistent policy and process to administer practice closures
  • Standardize Advanced Practice Provider (APP) utilization and protocols
  • Reduce the impact of no-shows and cancellations
  • Coordinate patient access goals with value-based care arrangements/strategy

What are we missing? Let us know what solutions your organization has undertaken to improve patient access. What were the results? Every scenario is unique, and we would love to hear about your issues.

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