Hospitals and health systems continue to face considerable ambulatory access challenges despite perennial focus and previous improvement efforts. Solving this challenge is critical for clinical quality, consumer experience, and providers’ financial sustainability—especially as outpatient volumes are projected to drastically outgrow inpatient care across the coming decade. But at current course, hospitals and health systems will not have the capacity to capture this lucrative business, and competitors are ready to capitalize on health systems’ access shortcomings.
To improve ambulatory access, hospital and health system leaders must confront both the apparent delays (traditional time to appointment) and hidden delays—all the additional points in the patient journey that unnecessarily extend wait times. These hidden delays include the time spent deciding which provider to choose, searching for price information, scheduling during business hours, waiting for preauthorization, and traveling to sites of care.
This research report explains how leaders can reduce wait times by unlocking additional provider capacity, expediting the referral process, making the transactional elements of care frictionless, and deploying telehealth tools to improve convenience.