Unlocking Patient Access Through The Digital Front Door

The Challenge

Patient access is one of the most critical issues plaguing the current healthcare industry. For a large, academic health system – internationally renowned for world-class providers and care – getting patients scheduled for timely appointments was a monumental challenge. Patient access to this provider meant keeping up with demand, honoring patient preference, ensuring timely results, and improved efficiency of “first contact resolution” issues. Whether a patient called in via phone, attempted to schedule an appointment online, or tried to access telemedicine-based care – technological and operational barriers to entry started to erode this organization’s stellar reputation, putting them at risk in the local market as well.

Despite passion and intention to resolve patient access issues internally, the client called Vynamic to address two critical needs:

  1. Aligning a decentralized, yet consensus-based organization on the same goals, success measures, and tactics to improve patient access across the system, emphasizing the involvement of clinicians at key decision junctures of system policy and change
  2. Transitioning innovative, bold strategy to actionable plans and improved outcomes

Radical focus on these two areas would ensure patients and referring clinicians could easily find the right provider, at the right location, and at the right time. Along with the benefits of increased patient satisfaction, enhanced operational efficiency, and a financial return-on-investment, a potential societal benefit was uncovered. Solving for true patient access also opens the door to increased health equity.

The Approach

Patient access is an obvious predicament, but designing effective solutions is a multi-pronged and challenging endeavor. Vynamic was perfectly positioned to partner with our client because we understood that enabling patient access was the first critical step to truly engaging with the patient all the way from first contact to post-discharge.

The key operational tenets to enable true patient access involved the following:

Building a Governance Model

The first step with setting up a multi-tiered, equitably-staffed governance model is to test thoughtfully curated and parallel solutions. Vynamic led a critical first task of goal-setting to begin tracking progress towards an ideal future state including these elements:

  • Make scheduling an appointment by phone or online easy, intuitive, and centered on patient preference
  • Develop a system strategy to offer non-traditional visit options for patients
  • Empower patients to manage their healthcare through the patient portal
  • Create usable and consistent standard operating procedures (SOPs)
  • Enable patient communication that is timely, efficient, and centered on customer preference
  • Provide transparency in information about the cost of care to patients
  • Foster a culture that values and rewards access

Conducting Current State Assessments

Once established, Vynamic led the governance group through current state assessments. This allowed the team to explore the organization’s internal issues, but also looked outwards at industry trends to inform future state. By looking outward to learn from the industry, Vynamic and the client really sought to push the boundaries and expand beyond the current standards of excellence.

Prioritizing Impact & Feasibility

Once solutions were brainstormed, Vynamic led pressure testing exercises mapped against impact and feasibility through a matrix that pushed out the highest priority projects. This helped the organization focus on key investments and initiatives. Testing was done through pilots that provided a baseline and a strong foundation for sustainable scaling across the enterprise.

The Result

A key patient access metric is the ability to self-schedule, or schedule online. Through this partnership, the client saw an increase of 40% of patients being able to schedule appointments online. This statistic alone illustrated that patients could prioritize their preference to see their providers and get the care they needed.

These additional results were achieved:

  • Over 90% of departments collaborating on one united initiative
  • 40% increase in call center agent service level
  • 10,000+ appointments moved up on average one month earlier than previously scheduled
  • Visits per month increased 45%

This project was invaluable to the client because Vynamic co-created a foundation of patient access that can last for many years and evolve with the client over time. Great patient access leads to true patient engagement.

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