Redefining “Access”

November 17, 2014 by By InTouch Health

Polls consistently show that “access” to healthcare is a high priority for most patients. But a patient’s definition of access is a far cry from how providers see it.

For most hospitals and health systems, the Patient Access department is a large and complex operation. In many cases, it includes the call center employees who schedule appointments and all the folks who handle patient registration, insurance verification and payments.

In short, this team preps the patient to see the doctor, but do their efforts really ensure that you’re getting access to the right care at the right time at the right place? What happens if the specialist you’re scheduled to see is sick or stuck in traffic?

Most providers approach “patient access” either as a workflow issue or an opportunity to get upfront payment for services. They may have a check-in kiosk to expedite the process, but that’s about as far as their technology goes.

So here’s a novel idea: why not take greater advantage of telemedicine technology?

Let’s say that you visit your ophthalmologist, who’s baffled by a retinal condition she’s never seen before. It would clearly be advantageous to have “access” to a retina specialist who is familiar with it so you could get the right treatment without delay.

That’s the sort of improved access that health reform is aiming for – not just a faster way to get an appointment.

As technology-enabled consultations become more commonplace, we may not need an on-site army of registration and billing people anymore. Telemedicine is redefining “access” to mean something very simple: putting the patient in touch with the best provider, whenever and wherever needed.