Tips for Winning the Patient Access Game

Clearstep Media
Clearstep Team

Patient access is a critical part of the hospital revenue cycle. Patients need to be able to get appointments and treatments booked quickly and easily, or they may take their business elsewhere. Without an efficient patient access process, hospitals will lose money and patients. 

Keep in mind that there are some obstacles that are impacting the performance of some healthcare groups and providers. Organizations within the marketplace struggle to manage the following issues:

  • Staffing shortages and provider fatigue
  • Rising costs and lower reimbursements
  • Growing demand for higher-value care 
  • Growing healthcare consumerism 
  • Increased provider competition 

With these issues becoming more prevalent, the ability to redefine and reimagine the patient experience could be the fastest road to success for your organization. Providing timely, convenient, and easy care access to patients is the key to winning the game. 

First, What Does Patient Access Mean?

Patient access refers to the methods by which patients can obtain information about their health and connect with providers. Patients can now easily find information about potential providers, schedule appointments, and receive care in a way that is convenient for them. This can be done by validating details such as:

  • Whether or not their insurance is accepted
  • If transportation assistance options are available 
  • If support and/or appointments outside of normal business hours are available

Excellent patient access is essential to maintaining a high quality of care, as it ensures that patients can get the treatment they need in a timely manner. In addition, patient access can help to improve health outcomes by reducing the chances of missed appointments or delayed diagnosis and treatment. 

Ultimately, this process is about making sure that patients have the ability to receive the care they need, when they need it. By removing barriers and making it easy for them to see their chosen provider, your organization can improve the quality of care for everyone and will be well-positioned to attract and retain patients. 

Related: Why this talk from the CMIO of Baycare gave me goosebumps

Reimagining Patient Access for Success

Hospitals are constantly looking for ways to win the patient access game. It's an important part of providing quality care, and it can also impact the bottom line. There are several strategies that you can use to improve your organization's patient access process. Remember no two hospitals are exactly the same, so you'll need to tailor these strategies to fit your specific needs.  

Make Appointments Easy To Schedule

When patients have to jump through hoops to schedule an appointment, they often get frustrated and divert. However, if appointment scheduling is easy, patients are more likely to follow through with their treatment plan, which increases compliance. Here are a few tips and tools you can apply to make scheduling appointments a breeze for your patients: 

  • Online appointment systems make it easy for patients to schedule appointments without having to call your office. They can simply log in, select a time that works for them, and confirm their appointment. Complementing online scheduling with a tool like Virtual Triage will ensure that they are self-scheduling the appropriate type of appointment.
  • Appointment reminders are another great way to improve patient access. By sending reminders via email or text message, you can help ensure that patients don’t forget their appointments. 
  • Flexible scheduling options can be a great help for busy patients. If possible, offer early morning, evening, or weekend appointments to make it easy for patients to fit appointments into their equally busy schedules. 

By taking steps like these, you can improve patient access and make it easier for your patients to get the care they need.

Incorporate Basic Triage Into Scheduling

Triage is a system that is used to assess and prioritize patients based on the severity of their condition. By using triage, you can ensure that the most critically ill patients are seen first and that less urgent cases are given the appropriate level of care. 

In addition, triage can help  improve patient flow by ensuring that they are seen in the most efficient order. By incorporating basic triage into your healthcare organization, you can improve patient access, care routing and improve the overall patient experience.

Trying to increase the satisfaction of your patients? Give Clearstep a look today!

Create Network Visibility

As you know, providing timely patient access to the right specialist is critical to delivering quality care. However, identifying and connecting with the right specialist can be difficult, especially considering all of the factors that come into play such as distance, insurance coverage, patient preferences and more.

Network visibility helps to quickly and easily identify which specialists are available and connect patients with the ones that can help them. Not only does this improve patient care, but it also helps your hospital run more efficiently by minimizing administrative scheduling burdens and incorrect care routing. 

Related: 3 Ways Patient Care is Like Tinder

Daily Work Templates

Healthcare organizations are always looking for ways to improve patient access and streamline care delivery. One way to do this is to create a daily work template. This document outlines the tasks that need to be completed each day, as well as who is responsible for each task. By having all of this information in one place, everyone on the care team can easily see what needs to be done and when. 

This can help improve coordination and prevent delays in care. Additionally, a daily work template can help identify areas where processes can be streamlined or improved. Ultimately, using a daily work template is a simple way to improve patient access and improve the overall efficiency of the care team.

Adjust Resource Allocation

One way to improve patient access is to adjust resource allocation. This can be done by identifying areas where patients are having difficulty accessing care and then allocating resources to those areas. 

For example, if patients are having trouble getting appointments with primary care physicians, then more resources can be allocated to primary care. This may mean hiring more staff, expanding hours, or increasing the number of appointments available. 

By making these adjustments, your organization can improve patient access and experience.

Looking to coordinate and understand patient health journeys? Check out Clearstep today!

Offer A Waitlist

Research shows that 10% of appointments are canceled 48 hours or less before the scheduled time of the appointment, and these are often hard to reschedule without much warning. 

When a patient is placed on the waitlist, they will be contacted as soon as an opening becomes available. Additionally, waitlists can be used to fill last-minute cancellations or openings that may occur. By offering a waitlist, hospitals can improve patient access and ensure their appointment quotas stay met. 

Now That You Know

Winning the patient access game requires a strategic and coordinated effort across all departments within your healthcare organization. By creating network visibility, using daily work templates, adjusting resource allocation, and offering a waitlist, you can streamline the process and improve patient satisfaction.

If you need help putting these tips into practice or want more information on how to win the patient access game, let us know how we can help!

Related: Virtual care was a necessity during the pandemic. What happens now?

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