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Improved Patient Access and Increased Demand Contribute to Additional Revenue

June 15, 2022
Posted in Data and Analytics

Article Summary


WakeMed Health & Hospitals (WakeMed), a leading provider of health services in North Carolina, identified it could improve the consistency and ease of patient access, but it lacked the actionable data needed to make improvements. WakeMed elected to use its data and analytics platform to obtain the information required to analyze patient access and improve the patient experience. Utilizing its data and analytics platform and analytics applications, WakeMed can now visualize patient access data to draw more accurate and consistent conclusions and quickly identify performance changes.

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Featured Outcomes
  • $25.4M increase in revenue due in part to a 15.8 percent relative increase in outpatient visits.

BETTER PATIENT ACCESS TRANSFORMS EXPERIENCE AND BOOSTS REVENUE

Effective patient access is critical for population health, patient engagement, patient satisfaction, and health system financial performance. Patient access sets the stage for all patient encounters with the health system.1

IMPROVING THE PATIENT ACCESS EXPERIENCE

WakeMed wanted to provide its patients with a consistent, effective patient access experience across its system, but recognized it wasn’t providing the desired experience. The organization knew that patients often had trouble accessing the system, but it lacked the actionable data that would enable the identification, prioritization, and management of improvement opportunities.

The organization could obtain some patient access data—but obtaining and analyzing the data required burdensome manual processes. Furthermore, few people in the organization had access to the data, which led to numerous questions and a lack of trust in the data. The organization had engaged a consultant in an attempt to gather data and build measures that would help improve patient access, but the data and measures provided didn’t meet the organization’s needs. WakeMed needed a powerful analytics solution to provide the actionable data and insights required to improve patient access.

WakeMed elected to use the Health Catalyst® Data Operating System (DOS™) platform and a robust suite of analytics applications, including a patient access analytics application and Healthcare.AI™, to gain access to the high-value data and insights it needed to analyze patient access and prioritize activities to improve the patient experience.

THE POWER OF PATIENT ACCESS

For the first time, WakeMed has one source of truth for its high-value data and analytics. Data sources and measure definitions are transparent, and team members understand and trust the data in the application. Using the analytics application, WakeMed can visualize patient access key performance indicators, including internal and external referral conversion rates, schedule utilization, new patient visits, cancellations, no-shows, visit type, and patient portal activation rates.

WakeMed leverages data from the data and analytics platform to understand performance and to understand and tell the patient access “story.” After learning from its data, the organization prioritized upgrading and improving the patient scheduling process, optimizing the patient referral process, and increasing the number of new patients, while simultaneously growing the number of WakeMed Physician Practices (a specific subset of the larger healthcare system).

WakeMed has been able to establish a new, dedicated patient contact center that receives referrals and scheduling requests from patients and physician offices, standardizing and optimizing the patient referral process. The organization standardized and is optimizing electronic waitlists for practices with full patient panels and limited appointment availability—even using the patient portal to manage self-scheduling for COVID-19 vaccination appointments. The organization can immediately notify patients when an appointment becomes available and prompt patients to self-schedule for the available visit. To visualize the impact of changes on outcomes, WakeMed uses the analytics application and statistical process control charts generated by Healthcare.AI. As a result, the organization can draw more accurate and consistent conclusions and can quickly identify performance changes.

“The Health Catalyst platform has supercharged our people, informed our process, and accelerated our drive to scale care transformation, improve population health, and meaningfully engage across the health equity spectrum.” 

Chris DeRienzo, MD, MPP, Senior Vice President and System Chief Medical Officer, WakeMed

RESULTS

WakeMed’s patient-centered, data-informed patient access improvements are delivering the desired results. In just one year, the organization improved patient access, increased annual visit volume to meet patient needs, and growth in WakeMed Physician Practices. Results include:

  • $25.4M increase in revenue due in part to a 15.8 percent relative increase in outpatient visits.
    • 13.9 percent relative increase in new patient visits.
    • 7.1 percent relative decrease in appointment cancellations without a reschedule.
    • 81.6 percent relative increase in direct scheduling through the patient portal.
    • New patient visits, direct scheduling, and revenue were positively impacted by a substantial increase in demand associated with COVID-19 impacts, and growth in WakedMed Physician Practices.

The new patient contact center has significantly improved performance. Results include:

  • 87 percent relative reduction in the number of patients hanging up before their call is answered.
  • >8X increase in the number of calls answered within 20 seconds.
  • The patient contact center has gone five consecutive months without any calls sent to voicemail.

WHAT’S NEXT

WakeMed is integrating new patient access data and measures into its analytics application, supporting the organization in identifying additional opportunities to improve access to ensure its patients can easily access the care they need.

REFERENCES

  1. Heath, S. (2018). Top challenges impacting patient access to healthcare. Patient Engagement HIT. Retrieved from https://patientengagementhit.com/news/top-challenges-impacting-patient-access-to-healthcare

ADDITIONAL READING

Data-Informed MIPS Improvement Efforts Drive Improved Quality Scores and Increased Revenue

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