Patient access does not have a simple measurement that stands out. There are several contenders which we will go through and show why they come up short. Then we will introduce a brand-new stat, The Patient Access ScoreTM.
Average Wait Time In Days
The average wait time from when a patient is booked to when their appointment is. It’s very simple, but there is a major problem. Certain appointments may be booked out months because of medical necessity (example: annual physical). This should not count against a healthcare system’s patient access score. We must throw this one out.
Note: QueueDr does use this metric because we move up patients and thus can measure the delta between what a patient was booked for and the earliest they could be seen.
Average Wait Time in Days Per Appointment Type (for New Patients Only)
This is an improvement to the first but it ignores established patient appointments which we’ve seen can be 80-90% of a provider’s appointments.
Third Next Available Appointment
Average length of time in days between the day a patient makes a request for an appointment with a physician and the third available appointment for a new patient physical, routine exam, or return visit exam.”
This is a very popular measurement because it tries to control for the two biggest issues. First, it looks at the average instead of the next available appointment. Second, it considers the fact that a patient on a return visit (for example), may be booked out weeks for medical reasons, or because of a long wait.
However, it has failed to gain popularity for three reasons. First, it’s confusing, both to explain and to say. Second, it’s practically impossible to implement. It requires a schedule to be perfectly templated. We have NEVER seen a perfectly templated schedule. Schedulers modify appointment types or build new workflows to meet patient demands. Finally, many EMRs have not adopted this as part of their reporting.