Both issues are critically important and by beginning our focus on timely access for care we can also begin to address deprivation or access to care. Delays represent the relationship between demand and supply. If demand for care exceeds capacity (supply) to provide care, delays will occur and worsen. Delays can only be controlled by seeking to achieve demand – supply balance. Those deprived of care can be brought into the fold (paneled with a provider) when better balance is achieved, and as capacity becomes available.
Delays for care have a direct relationship to continuity. As patients seek care outside their PMH due to inability to see their own provider or practice team in a timely fashion, continuity suffers due to the lack of relationship and information available to the provider seen. Delays for care can also lead to rework and triage, provider / patient dissatisfaction, no shows, phone chaos and in some cases adverse clinical outcomes.
A first step toward access improvement is panel identification. Identifying the number of unique, unduplicated patients on your panel will allow you to better understand the demand for services that must be matched to the supply or capacity for service delivery in your clinic.