A method to improve patient access in urological practice

Brent W Snow, Patrick C Cartwright, Scott Everitt, Melinda Ekins, Willow Maudsley, Susan Aloi
Journal of Urology 2009, 182 (2): 663-7

PURPOSE: Studies to improve patient access to care have generally involved office based primary care practices or highly managed systems. Surgical practices differ in their referral nature, the common need for imaging at the first appointment and the need to schedule subsequent surgical procedures. We determined whether new patient access to care can be improved in a surgical practice.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: To reduce new patient appointment wait times to a goal of 5 working days (1 week), a 12-week transition period into a new scheduling approach was designed. At the next clinic with open slots (9 weeks away) 10% of the appointments were held open until the week before for new patient visits. For each of the following 4 weeks 10% additional appointments were held open each week until 50% were being reserved. These slots were not available until 1 week before the clinic date and then were only open for new patients calling to make an appointment.

RESULTS: Appointment delay times improved significantly and this improvement has been durable for 2 years. Interestingly our no show rate did not change.

CONCLUSIONS: A surgical office with long new patient appointment wait times can improve access to clinic consultations by implementing this system.

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