Outpatient Neurology Clinic Team Improves Patient Access – Penn State Hershey Medical Center

[ Music ]>>It was devastating for me as a manager
to say, I’m sorry, I can’t give you an appointment.>>The Outpatient Neurology Clinic along Hope
Drive is a busy place. A typical day sees up to 150 patients pass through these hallways
and exam rooms.>>Thank you for calling Penn State Hershey
Neurology Clinic, how may I help you?>>But not long ago, if you were referred
to this clinic for an appointment, you were told it would be months until you could see
a doctor, in some cases, up to a year.>>It was embarrassing to them to have to
tell these people, I’m sorry, you know, we have your information, when we have an appointment,
we’ll call you. But you couldn’t say when because you had no idea when you were going
to get an opening.>>The problem was easy to diagnose, too many
patients and not enough medical providers. And the problem is not unique to Penn State
Hershey. Nationally, there are fewer trained neurologists, while at the same time, awareness
of neurological diseases is up, and people want to know if they are candidates for new
treatments.>>All the patients that come into this clinic
are sick, and they need us to help them. If I was the patient, would I like to wait a
year for an appointment? And the answer is no, it’s unacceptable.>>Improving access to care, the measure of
a patient’s ability to seek and receive care in a timely manner is of growing concern to
hospitals everywhere. Delayed treatment can result in emotional distress, physical harm,
and higher costs for patients. Dr. Ross decided a new approach was needed.>>As the years went by, despite all our efforts
of trying different things, bringing new providers on, the wait continued to get longer.>>In 2008, a walk-in clinic was launched.
While well received, when patients started to line up at 2 am in the snow, it indicated
the need was greater than a walk-in clinic could support.>>So we decided we would pilot a team-based
model; and with this, it would be 1 physician, with 3 advanced practiced clinicians, either
nurse practitioners or physician assistants.>>The novel approach is more of an assessment
or consultation, it’s an early intake approach that allows medical providers to quickly assess
the issue, determine if tests are needed, and what immediate treatment might be necessary.
Patients were quick to accept this new approach if it meant getting in the door faster.>>I think a lot of that has been the culture.
I think that medicine itself has done a really great job of promoting nurse practitioners
and physician assistants, and so the comfort level is significantly better now than let’s
say 10 years ago.>>Improvement to patient access was almost
immediate. With the new team-based model installed, wait times plummeted, and work continues to
lower them even more.>>We just finished looking at the 12-month
data, so January through December 2013, and the average for the entire year was 8.7 days.
We didn’t have a single month where we went over 21 days, which is our goal, to get everyone
in, in less than 21 days; and we met that goal.>>Dr. Ross gives credit not only to the clinic’s
team of physicians, advanced-practice clinicians, nurses, and support staff, but also to Penn
State Hershey Leadership, who fully supported this new approach; and which already is being
implemented in other departments that have dealt with access issues.>>Obviously in this area, there’s a huge
respect for this institution, and so to be able to have that kind of care right here
and not have to wait a year, you know, patients love it.>>If you have a concept that can make things
better, you have the ability to then bring it to fruition and everybody wins. [ Music ]

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