While patient access challenges have been ongoing in healthcare, COVID-19 further stressed access infrastructure. Stay-at-home orders, temporary halts on in-person primary visits, transportation challenges, and more resulted in deferred or missed care. Meanwhile, pandemic-era workarounds, such as a shift to virtual care, have pushed a more digitized patient experience. As healthcare consumers and providers increasingly relying on touchless and asynchronous processes, health systems are discovering opportunities to improve patient access and the overall experience. With the following five steps in a patient access improvement framework, organizations can scale and sustain innovations and lessons learned during the pandemic:
- Create a patient access task force.
- Assess barriers to patient access.
- Turn access barriers into opportunities.
- Implement an improved patient access plan.
- Scale and sustain better patient access.