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Reimbursement and Practice Management

Patient Access from the Perspective of Supply and Demand

Ideally the limiting factor for patient access should be the provider — and only the provider.

In Mastering Patient Flow, Elizabeth Woodcock, MBA, CPC, FACMPE suggests patient access as a "supply and demand" business concept. One key to unlocking the potential for patient access is understanding demand. How long does it take for a patient to be seen — either as a new patient or established patient?

We would like it if we could be seen on a walk-in basis at any time day or night for any specialty medical visit. A little reality check is in order. If you were seeking specialty care for yourself, would the time to your appointment for your own clinic be reasonable? 

Calculate the percentage of new patients. Is this number sufficient to maintain or grow the practice?

Understanding access to the supply of patient care is equally important. Consider measuring the no-show rate, the cancelation conversion rate, block rate and the fill rate in order to establish a baseline. Using baseline data, work intentionally to improve the “supply chain” of patients by eliminating barriers to patient access.

There are patient access symposiums dedicated to robust idea exchanges for this significant aspect of patient flow. Consider participating.

Optimize the supply and demand by gaining efficiencies in patient access — before adding providers, extending hours or extending the work week. Ensure the limiting factor for patient access is truly the provider — and only the provider.

United States