Fam Pract Manag. 2003 Jun;10(6):11-12.
Stumbling blocks to open access
To the Editor:
I enjoyed Dr. John Giannone’s article in the January 2003 issue [“Open Access as an Alternative to Patient Combat,” page 65]. We’ve adopted open access but have encountered some stumbling blocks. First, how do we get patients to accept the new model? Although we offer assurances that appointments will be open (and they are), a lot of people still want to schedule appointments. Second, how do we get buy-in from all of our providers?
As with any change, there has to be transition. It’s been two years since we implemented open access, and we still have quite a bit of transition ahead of us. It takes time for patients to trust that they will get in when they call. You and your staff must stick firmly to two rules: 1. Do today’s work today. 2. Protect tomorrow at all costs. Your reception staff has to kindly, yet firmly, “bring them in today.” Unfortunately, I have a three-week backlog for scheduled visits, so patients can be seen today –or in three weeks. Most choose today. Patients know they can get in any day they call. Staff know that by protecting tomorrow at today’s expense, they may actually get home on time tomorrow. I think there is even a little pride when we’re less than 50 percent booked at the start of the day. So, hang in there with your patients, and the transition will happen.
Invite those colleagues who want to get onboard and leave the rest alone. They will get tired of having their lunch eaten. This is a difficult concept for doctors and others to accept. Show them it works, and then help them catch up. But be careful about acute visits for their patients. All your hard work with backlog will be for naught if you try to provide open access to your patients and urgent care to your colleagues’ patients. Remember, open access is counterintuitive, but it works.
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU
Send your comments to email@example.com. Submission of a letter will be construed as granting AAFP permission to publish the letter in any of its publications in any form. We cannot respond to all letters we receive. Those chosen for publication will be edited for length and style.
Copyright © 2003 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for copyright questions and/or permission requests.
Want to use this article elsewhere? Get Permissions