Why Does Patient Access Need To Be Redesigned?

If you could split atoms with your mind, but nobody needed to have atoms split, is it legitimate to post atom-splitting as a skill on your LinkedIn Profile?

If you could answer eighty percent of the calls to your hospital’s call center within twenty seconds, if your hospital had a nominal hold time and abandonment for those calls, but you could not resolve the reason for which the person called, are you simply splitting atoms?  That is how plutonium was discovered.

I just finished reading reports from two consulting firms summarizing the importance of being efficient, being fast. Answer the phone calls.

Speed kills. Being efficient kills.  Being effective is what matters.

People call wanting access to the hospital, wanting answers from the hospital.  Being able to answer the call on the first ring without being able to schedule an appointment is a waste of your money and their time.  The reason people quit calling back for an appointment is because they called someone else.  The patient experience score for that interaction is zero.

To those who think I am simply splitting hairs stay with me and think through the following real scenarios.

The physician in ED tells the patient to be seen by a specialist in two weeks.

The cardiologist instructs the patient in the discharge orders to schedule an appointment in two weeks.

The surgeon instructs the patients to make an appointment to have the sutures removed in two weeks.

In these scenarios, the onus is on the patient to complete the action.  In many instances at many hospitals the patients are instructed to achieve the unachievable.  Once the patient perceives that their assigned task, scheduling an appointment is difficult or unachievable, the patient will stop trying to complete the task.

Some will continue to call.  Some patients will go to the ED.  Others will go to another hospital.  All of these options either increase the hospital’s expenses or decrease its revenues.

For almost every hospital, access was never designed, it just sort of evolved.  Chances are quite high that access at your hospital is in need of a makeover.

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