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Expanding access to care takes teamwork

APP’s goal is to provide care and access for patients how and when they need it. Our commitment to this was tested when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, but we quickly met the challenge by broadening our use of telemedicine to…

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APP’s goal is to provide care and access for patients how and when they need it. Our commitment to this was tested when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, but we quickly met the challenge by broadening our use of telemedicine to ensure patients could still be seen.

That same agility and teamwork will be needed as we return to a more steady state. To help ensure access to care, APP has established “Tiger Teams” for both primary and specialty care clinics. Tiger Teams are an invention of NASA and are defined as “a team of undomesticated and uninhibited technical specialists, selected for their experience, energy and imagination, and assigned to track down relentlessly every possible source of failure.”

Asante has successfully used Tiger Teams in other parts of our system to identify and resolve areas of opportunity. APP’s primary care access Tiger Team was formed in January and has worked a variety of improvement areas, including:

  • Scripting
  • Observing calls for training and quality control
  • Creating provider templates and schedules
  • Team communication

Their work is already bearing results as measured by patient experience scores, particularly questions involving patients’ perception of access. While I would like to thank and recognize all clinics for their dedication and hard work around access, Black Oak Family Medicine stands out for its significant improvement. At the end of the past fiscal year, Black Oak scored in the 8th percentile on this question, with just 54% of patients saying they could always be seen as soon as they need to be.

By adopting some new approaches, the clinic’s scores rose to the 29th percentile earlier this year, with 63.2% of patients saying they received care as soon as they needed it. By last month, performance had soared to just under the 89th percentile, with nearly 85% of patients saying they can always be seen as soon as they need to be.

Kristen Williams, manager of practice operations for Black Oak Family Medicine, attributes the success to collaboration, communication, focus on one-call resolution and flexibility. One successful tactic was to take a patient-centric approach to scheduling. Instead of scheduling at the clinic’s convenience, PSRs now ask every patient, “When would you like to be seen?” Patients have responded so positively we’re asking that all clinics adopt this approach.

It takes a team to deliver great patient care — and this care starts before the patient arrives. We appreciate the dedication our staff and providers have shown to keeping our patients at the center of all we do.

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