Quantifying Patient Access: Utilize Data to Identify Improvement Opportunities and Monitor Performance

In a recent blog post on patient access and also on a podcast on the same topic, we reviewed the primary factors that restrict patient access and the corresponding strategies to improve performance. Now we’ll focus on the data and analytics that can help identify patient access issues and monitor results over time. Many organizations struggle with accurately and consistently reporting service access metrics. Often, those who have the data fall short of disseminating and utilizing the information effectively to make operational decisions. Data integrity is paramount, but even with inherent challenges, the right metrics can be used directionally to paint a picture of patient access and monitor performance over time.

The following metrics are some of our favorite indicators of patient access opportunity:

3rd Next Available Appointment (days)

  • The number of days until the 3rd next available (3NA) appointment for a new patient/physical or follow-up/short visit
  • The most common measure of patient access, 3NA by visit type and provider indicates appointment wait time and can also help estimate patient demand over time.
  • Consider comparing community perception of “reasonable timeliness” to actual appointment availability.
  • Many organizations struggle to automate 3NA data accurately, and manual reporting can be cumbersome and subject to human error.
  • Measure at the provider level for actionable insights but the group level for directional tracking.
  • Target: 21 days or less for a new patient/physical and seven days or less for a follow-up/short visit

Available Time Booked (Percentage)

  • The ratio of booked hours to available hours on a provider’s schedule
  • Indicates how full a provider’s schedule is based on available hours—important to consider blocked time and holds
  • Measure at the provider, specialty, clinic, and/or system level.
  • Target: 80% or more of available time

No-Show Rate (Percentage)

  • The ratio of no-show visits to total visits
  • Indicates the volume of wasted appointment slots on a provider schedule
  • Many organizations struggle with a consistent no-show definition and therefore have inaccurate no-show rates, particularly when aggregated.
  • Measure at the provider, specialty, clinic, and/or system level
  • Target: 10% or less of total visits

Cancellation Rate (Percentage)

  • The ratio of canceled visits to total visits
  • Indicates potentially wasted visit slots as well as the amount of re-work required for non-provider staff
  • Separate patient-driven (inbound) and provider-driven (outbound) cancellations if possible.
  • Measure at the provider, specialty, clinic, and/or system level.
  • Target: 15% or less of total visits for patient-driven (inbound) cancellations.

Provider Capacity (variance)

  • The total number of available visits per day/clinic session compared to target.
  • Indicates productivity potential and opportunities to adjust scheduling templates/criteria.
  • Measure at the provider level.
  • Target: Specialty dependent.

Let us know which metrics you’re using (or avoiding) and the solutions you’ve implemented to improve patient access, and please contact us to learn more about how Coker Group can help.

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