The Fifth Lever of Practice Profitability: Access

As we discuss the fifth and final lever of practice profitability, we will explore the topic of access. As with many healthcare related topics, access is complicated and multi-dimensional. Access in your medical group may include the following:

  • Clinical Care Access
  • Consumer Access
  • Managed Care Access

The common denominator is that each of these access points affects a patient’s ability to obtain the clinical care that they are seeking.
Clinical Care Access

Clinical Care Access addresses the timeliness of appointment availability for patients in need of care. A survey by Merritt Hawkins revealed that the average wait time for a new patient physician appointment in 15 mid-sized metro areas is 32 days. For a patient in need of care, a lengthy wait time may result in the patient’s condition deteriorating over time, sending them to the emergency department, or jeopardizing their life.

Medical practices should evaluate their next available appointment slots regularly.   Often times, adjustments to the physician’s schedule such as reserving new patient appointment times or adding non-physician providers can help optimize scheduling capacity. Evaluating patient flow and clinical processes might reveal other opportunities for improving patient access such as streamlining approaches to the administrative and clinical aspects of each visit.

 

Consumer Access

More and more, we are hearing about consumerism in healthcare. Patients are more educated about their healthcare choices and are seeking more customer-friendly experiences from their healthcare providers. Many of the conveniences that patients enjoy in other industries are now expected in healthcare, such as extended hours, online scheduling, patient portals, and online bill payments. Not only do these services build patient loyalty, but they may also have a positive impact on your bottom line by reducing staffing costs and improving cash collections. These services empower patients to be more self-sufficient in accessing their own medical records, scheduling their own appointments, and paying bills online 24/7 without waiting on-hold for a representative to take their payment.

 

Payer Access

Lastly, payer participation can be a critical access point for patients and providers. In mid-level markets, a study revealed that 81 percent of physicians participated in Medicare and 60 percent in Medicaid. Private payer contracts can also vary significantly and may deter accessibility to your practice. A regular evaluation of your managed care contracts is important for medical groups to understand if certain contracts are significantly restricting access for patients. In some instances, providers have made a conscious decision not to contract with certain payers based on reimbursement rates. In contrast, other contracts may have been overlooked and underestimated in terms of their financial impact to the practice.

 

Contact Us

The experts at Practice Partners Inc can evaluate your medical group to identify ways to enhance patient access. Contact us to learn more about how we can help optimize your practice’s bottom line.