OBJECTIVE: To describe the implementation and evaluation of a quality improvement intervention to increase new-patient access and decrease time-to-appointment wait for gastroenterology care.
METHODS: We used a new model of care for gastroenterology evaluation. For specified clinical complaints, we offered new-patient appointments that were scheduled with a general pediatrician as an alternative to a subspecialist. A nurse navigator assisted in triaging patients. We analyzed all patient encounters over an 8-month period. To verify decreased time-to-appointment wait, mystery shoppers made semimonthly calls to centralized scheduling. We surveyed parents/families after visits with the pediatrician or subspecialists regarding satisfaction.
RESULTS: The “access” pediatrician evaluated and treated ∼40% of all new patients presenting to the division during the study period. Approximately 10% of new patients evaluated by the pediatrician (4% overall) were referred on to the subspecialist; fewer patients were reevaluated by the pediatrician in follow-up. The pediatrician ordered a minimal number of procedures. Semimonthly sampling revealed that overall new-patient access improved from an average time-to-appointment wait of 25 days to <1 day. Parent/family satisfaction was high for the patients evaluated by the pediatrician.
CONCLUSIONS: Embedding a general pediatrician within a subspecialty division, and navigating patients to this provider, can increase access to treatment of new low- to moderate-complexity patients. The access pediatrician can maintain patient satisfaction, provide high-quality care, and decrease need for subspecialist evaluation. The model, in the setting of a large academic medical center, may provide a solution for barriers to patient care such as lengthy time-to-appointment wait.
- AIDHC —
- Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children
- AP —
- access pediatrician
- GI —
- IOM —
- Institute of Medicine
- PCP —
- primary care provider
- Accepted December 18, 2012.
- Copyright © 2013 by the American Academy of Pediatrics