Patient Access & Patient Flow Improvement


An area that is often recognized as a barrier to a positive patient experience is a practice's patient access and patient flow process. To improve patient flow, we work with our clients to implement a phased approach to assessing clinical operations and processes that impact the patient experience. Below describes each phase and the deliverables you can expect.

Phase 1: Assessment of Current Operations Model

Clinic selection: We’ll work with you to identify the practice sites to be assessed by averaging scores for each clinic, ranking them from highest to lowest. Initially, you might be inclined to pick the lowest performing practice to participate in this program. However, the size and patient volume should also be considered. We recommend choosing one of your larger locations performing poorly, as this will have the greatest impact on your overall numbers.

Metrics for quantifying performance improvement: In every improvement effort, it is imperative to measure what matters and manage what you measure. Depending on your current metrics, and information from our pre-visit questionnaire, we will identify several options for initial measurement and tracking of progress towards improvement. Potential metrics may include:

  • No show and cancellation rates (both patient-initiated and provider-initiated)
  • Patient satisfaction scores for improvement initiatives in scheduling, access and patient flow (For example, CAHPS for PQRS Summary Survey Measures questions or CAHPS for ACO-12 Summary Survey Measures)
  • Cycle time from check-in to rooming, rooming to provider visit and provider discharge to administrative check-out

Pre-assessment phone conference: Following receipt of the pre-visit questionnaire, a senior consultant will coordinate logistics and planning, as well as, expectations for on-site assessment activities. The purpose of this call is to ensure the completion of all scheduled activities during the onsite visit.

Mystery calls: To identify service gaps in the scheduling process, we will conduct mystery calls for each location using scenarios applicable to Access and Scheduling. These calls are designed to assess potential gaps between current scheduling procedures and how telephone staff are actually handling calls.

Phase 2: On-site Consultant Visit

Practice site observations: A senior consultant will spend time observing check-in, rooming, provider visit and clinical discharge to identify gaps in patient experience and opportunities to enhance efficiency and effectiveness in the selected locations identified for the program. A third-party practice operations expert can observe and identify opportunities that insiders can frequently overlook. A quasi-quantitative analysis of practice sites and comparing them to best practice is a motivator for process and procedure improvement.

Stakeholder meetings: The senior consultant will meet with key manager and physician leaders to share findings and discuss strategies that will lead to enhanced productivity, increased revenue and improved provider and staff and patient satisfactions. Focusing on the vital few strategies will ensure success in early stages of service improvement. Staging and prioritization is essential to avoid overloading the organization at any point in time.

Patient Access & Flow Workshop: This highly rated in-person workshop provides tools and techniques for ensuring patients have access to care when they need it and the ability for the front office team to facilitate effective patient flow. See a full workshop outline here.

Executive summary and roadmap for improvement: A summary of findings will be documented as well as a proposed road map to initiating improvements that will enable improvement in the various components.

Phase 3: Maintaining Operational Gains

To help ensure the long-term success of this program, regular scheduled follow-up phone consultations with the on-site senior consultant are required. In preparation for these calls, we review current performance measures (for example, patient satisfaction scores, average wait for scheduled appointments, average time per visit, cancellation numbers, etc.). We’ll also conduct two mystery calls per location to ensure adherence to the prescribed program.

Mentoring and ongoing support will enable internal leaders to ensure success and hold people accountable to maintain the momentum through ongoing monitoring of activities and outcomes. The senior consultant will be available at one month, three months and six month intervals for a phone call to discuss progress and review of recent performance matrices. In addition, this time will be used to discuss what is working and what is not and how best to modify your continuous improvement strategy.

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Workshop Testimonials

“Enjoyed the presentation and learned a lot that will benefit my department.”

“Very refreshing program! I'm very glad this program was introduced and shared with us! Everyone can always use more positivity, education, and laughter! Thank you!”