The Department of Otolaryngology is working hard to improve the patient experience. Allison Ogden, MD, is heading the “Patient Access” committee and reports on the group’s progress to make every phase of the patient experience better.
What is the project to expand access? “Patient access” in the ENT Department means that patients should see the right provider at the right time with the right information at the right location. Starting in spring 2018, the Access Committee took on the broad challenge of improving our processes from the time of a patient appointment request through the time a patient leaves the office. We hope to evaluate our current processes, using thoughtful consideration and data where available, to make informed changes, with improving the patient experience as our main driver.
- Who is involved Committee members: Craig Buchman, MD, Allison Ogden, MD, Debbie Scherr, executive director, Jose Zevallos, MD, John Schneider, MD, Jason Rich, MD, David Leonard, MB, BCh, BAO, Stacia Jansen (RN, clinical operations manager), Tara Koste (medical assistant), Liza Ledesma (LPN), Dorian Pierce (SLCH manager), Michele Ferraro (telecom)
- What are the steps to improving access? Our committee started with the appointment side and is now venturing into the phases after the appointment is made–both before a patient arrives in the office and how they move through the clinic. All of this is linked–bottlenecks lead to delays, which lead to patient (and staff) frustrations.Steps: understanding our current processes, gathering data where possible to help understanding the potential areas for improvement, strategizing about methods to improve upon current system, and implementing this plan. And that is much easier said than done!
- Where has progress been made?
1) New scheduling algorithm (triage system) for Telecom that is based around patient complaints and linked to Epic search functions.
2) Changing the provider (MD, NP, PA, audiology, speech/language pathologist) schedule template in Epic to match what he/she is actually doing.
3) removing “frozen” appointments that were often going unfilled, despite long wait times.
4) expanding clinics’ times to the Family Practice Plan policy of standard templates from 8-12 and 1-5.
5) Decreasing average new patient wait times to less than 2 weeks.
6) establishing a “just say ‘yes’ mentality for same-day clinic add-ons and expediting referrals from community otolaryngologists. All of this had led to improved ability to find and schedule patient appointments.
- What is yet to be done? A lot! But we have good momentum. The committee is engaged and interested in positive change. In looking at the next “phase” of Patient Access, we are taking on how a patient moves through our system AFTER the appointment is made: what happens before they arrive for the appointment and during the office visit.