What does "Patient Access" really mean in my Program?

Thursday, July 11, 2019 | Nicole Knight

What does “Patient Access” really mean in my Program? 

Patient access has become one of the hottest topics across the country in the majority of CV Programs. It seems so simple to “fix” however it remains a challenge. I have experienced that the definition of access has many meanings based on the individual’s interpretation in relation to their needs, schedule, organization, etc. Access has over time become synonymous with “value” care.

Patients often say good access/value care occurs when:

  1. I have easy access to schedule an appointment with my provider.
  2. Providers take time to listen to me.
  3. The office staff is friendly, supportive, responsive, etc.
  4. My provider has a great bedside manner and advocates for my care.
  5. Parking is easy!

The list could go on and on and with impacts to healthcare changes by the minute. Ultimately from my experience, the definitions vary by patients, families, leadership, physicians and staff.  So how do we manage and improve access? How do we keep the patient at the center? How do we meet our goals and metrics? How do providers not feel they are giving up control of their schedules? I wish I had a crystal ball that would tell us all the answers. No magic here just some thoughts from being a patient, having elderly parents to care for, and working directly with patients, providers, leadership and programs.

The drive to create a top-notch patient experience is driven by patient consumerism. All programs strive to provide high-quality care and excellent customer service to their patients. It’s a major undertaking to accomplish with staff turnover, variable scheduling diverse workflows, customized physician schedule templates, financial barriers, and numerous other daily activities. The graphic below illustrates what we consider to be the attributes to a high performing CV program. It includes several steps with increasing effort to ultimately be transformative in accomplishing a truly patient-centric organization. Each step is imperative and directly impacts the goal. This is a good place to start in peeling back the layers of the onion.

At the MedAxiom spring conference we hosted a heavily attended pre-conference session on access. We will host an additional in the weed’s session on access at our fall conference this October. I hope you can join us and continue to share ideas, solutions and challenges. No matter how you define it, patient access is sure to be one of the most important issues.

Click here to register for the CV Transforum Fall’19 conference, October 24-26, in Dana Point, CA.

Illustration: Lee Sauer

About the Author
Nicole Knight

Nicole Knight, LPN, CPC, CCS-P, ACS-CA, is Vice President, Revenue Cycle Solutions and Consulting at MedAxiom. Her decades of hands-on health care experience includes cardiology and neurology practice operations, clinical management, business office management, and consulting for coding and compliance. Nicole maintains her LPN licensure in Louisiana and Florida. She is a member of the American Academy of Professional Coders and the American Health Information Management Association. She received her Advanced Coding Certification with the Board of Medical Specialty Coding. Nicole is a certified AHIMA ICD-10-CM Trainer and completed a Lean Sigma Healthcare training course at Johns Hopkins University. She also serves on the Physician Practice Council for AHIMA.

To contact, email: nknight@medaxiom.com

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