[Editor’s note: This is the first in a two-part series on how to optimize patient access.]
All providers and medical practice leaders strive to provide high-quality care and excellent customer service to their patients. And it’s a major undertaking to accomplish with staff turnover, variable scheduling and rescheduling of patients, diverse workflows, customized physician schedule templates, complex referrals, and numerous other daily activities.
Periodically, it’s important to take pause, think about one’s practice, and evaluate how to improve the multifaceted approaches in meeting patient demand.
Stanford Health Care (SHC) and its medical foundation, University HealthCare Alliance, are working to improve patient access in the San Francisco Bay Area.
We provide more than 1 million patient visits a year in 70 locations with 350 providers in 27 specialties and 1,200 employees. Two-thirds of our providers are primary care while one-third are specialists.
We have worked to interpret the complexities and integration involved in optimizing patient access. It’s no small task for any organization, least of all one that has a diverse group of providers.
Here are five areas where SHC has learned how to create standardized work to improve patient access and quality outcomes. These lessons learned can be applied to improve patient outcomes, quality, and service regardless of medical practice size—or budget.
1. Patient metrics
We realized we needed to pay attention to what we measure. Every practice needs to have a baseline of metrics to measure improvement over time and benchmark oneself against other performers.
Metrics can be collected manually or abstracted via computer systems. Their value is realized when leaders and staff learn from the metrics and change behavior to achieve expected results.Figure 1 shows several metrics SHC measures to gauge whether our focus on improving patient access continues to be met.