3 ways to improve patients' access to care

When it comes to creating the optimal patient experience, there is no magic wand healthcare providers can wave. But one major piece to the puzzle is improving patients' access to care, Daniel Palestrant, M.D., writes in an article in Hospitals & Health Networks Daily.

Beyond its capacity to improve patients' health and happiness, strengthening access is simply good business sense, he says. "In this new world of medicine, coordinated care, access to resources and providing an excellent patient experience will make or break a hospital's ability to compete," writes Palestrant.

Here's three ways hospitals can improve patients' access to care:

Keep track.  Intuitive technologies can help doctors figure out which resources are available to help patients through every step in their care. For providers wary of embracing high-tech solutions to improving patient care, Palestrant suggests hospitals create internal processes to track patients' transition between providers.

Be proactive. Communication is key to ensure the best possible transition for a patient between initial provider and specialist. Palestrant encourages physicians to go beyond simply giving a patient a specialist's phone number and to reach out to the specialist personally in order to arrange any pre-visit testing and cut back on unnecessary care.

Prioritize. With long wait times continuing to be a barrier to improving quality of care, healthcare leaders must empower scheduling staff to communicate with a patient's initial physician to determine case-by-case urgency. 

Factors such as socioeconomic status, education and even race and gender already play major roles in patients' healthcare access, FierceHealthcare previously reported. While providers have little control over these elements, making internal improvements can help level the playing field for all patients and improve the efficiency of the industry at large.

"As organizations shift to an outcome- and quality-based model," Palestrant concludes, "it's more crucial than ever that we maximize existing medical resources to provide the best care to all patients."

To learn more:
- read the article