The amount of time a patient may have to wait for a scheduled appointment at Texas Children’s Hospital varied greatly as a result of a lack of standardized processes. After taking a deeper look at its scheduling process with the help of analytics, it was able to develop an improvement strategy aimed at improving access to care—enhancing patient care and boosting revenue.
Revenue growth is a top priority for health system CEOs. Improving ambulatory access remains a top concern, as it allows hospitals and health systems to better serve patients while improving revenue.1
Texas Children’s Hospital, a not-for-profit organization located in Houston, Texas, is focused on creating a healthier future for children and women and is consistently ranked among the top children’s hospitals in the nation. Improving ambulatory access is key to its mission.
Feedback from patients at Texas Children’s indicated that it was difficult for them to schedule an appointment, often requiring multiple phone calls, and extended wait times. A little over half of the specialties were able to offer new patient appointments within 14-days of referral. However, some patients faced a six to eight-month wait for an appointment.
Practices for scheduling and referral management varied substantially across the organization, with more than 60 different referral workflows. Texas Children’s needed a data-informed improvement plan for access scheduling to ensure the availability of appointments for its patients, which in turn would increase patient satisfaction and drive growth for the organization.
The CEO of Texas Children’s designated patient access as a strategic priority, establishing an access and patient scheduling improvement initiative to address the problem. A steering committee of executive sponsors, physician leaders, ambulatory executives, information services executives, and project managers was established to guide work teams to improve patient access.
The steering committee leveraged the Health Catalyst® Data Operating System (DOS™) platform and a robust suite of analytics applications, including the Practice Management: Patient Access Accelerator, to analyze referral, scheduling, and capacity data, identifying multiple opportunities for improvement.
The organization prioritized improving the referral process, the patient scheduling experience, capacity and utilization, and ultimately financial performance. Physician leaders partnered with operational leaders, generating support to adjust processes to improve the patient experience and access to care by:
Texas Children’s uses the data platform and the Practice Management: Patient Access Accelerator to monitor and manage the effectiveness of its clinic operations. The organization can quickly and easily visualize the number of appointments, no-show rates, the amount of time each provider is spending in clinical care, percent of arrived patients, and template utilization. Texas Children’s can visualize the number of appointments in relation to budget goals, quickly identifying when there is a variance, enabling leaders to create an action plan to improve patient access.
As a result of its improvement efforts aimed at improving patient scheduling, Texas Children’s achieved impressive results, including:
“We were prompted as an organization to improve access, and that led us down the path to analytics. Using analytics, we developed a strategy that took advantage of tools such as our patient portal, while also standardizing our referral process to maximize access. This has allowed us to implement solutions to increase patient access and improve revenue by $8.3M.”– Carrie Rys, Assistant Vice President, Ambulatory Operations
Texas Children’s plans to continually make it easier for patients to access its services. The organization is rapidly expanding telehealth offerings to make more services available to patients at the times and locations that are most convenient for them.