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Often the mystery while waiting is worse than the waiting time itself. It makes us anxious and angry. Our imaginations fill in the blanks with all kinds of worst-case scenarios (I’m going to have to wait at home again tomorrow for the cable guy … I’m going to get home really late after our meal, I’ll be tired at work tomorrow … I’m not good enough to get accepted to that program or ANY program). In health care, mystery while waiting is routine.
When trying to improve your health care access process, you’re best to first understand your current process. The most effective way to understand is to go find out. This means watching the process as it happens, and gathering the facts. After 10+ years of studying health care access process we have learned what to look for. Use these questions when investigating your access process to set a strong foundation for improvement work.
Health networks battle with questions like, “should we put all patients through one wait list?” or “should we have one single phone number for patients to call?”. Otherwise put, should we centralize referrals for service, or decentralize? Stories frequently appear in the media, often after an effort to centralize referrals fails to bring the desired results. Centralized intake departments “go under the knife” as in this Ottawa example or with Fraser Health’s centralized flu shot booking. Can nature teach us a better way?
A lot of countries care about care coordination. A recent Commonwealth Fund international survey asked seniors how they felt about their transitions in care. United States, Switzerland, Netherlands, Canada and a number of other countries participated in, and funded, the survey. All 11 countries found out they have coordination problems associated with a lack of information and communication among providers.
In the US Medicare population, up to 76 percent of rehospitalizations occurring within 30 days of discharge are avoidable. Rehospitalizations represent a significant source of waste and harm in the healthcare system.
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