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Tracking four key metrics can help practices identify the root causes of their access problems while addressing physician overload.

Fam Pract Manag. 2023;30(6):37-41

This content conforms to AAFP criteria for CME.

Author disclosures: no relevant financial relationships.

Easy access to a usual source of primary care is key to a well-functioning health care system, yet an increasing number of patients report that they do not have a usual source of primary care.1 Long wait times for appointments, evolving patient expectations, and ongoing practice staffing shortages may all be responsible.

How well is your practice keeping up with patient demand? Other than formal complaints or patients lost to follow-up, how do you know if your appointment availability is adequate? If you suspect your practice has an access problem, perhaps due to a physician staffing shortage, how should you go about solving it? A practice dashboard can help physicians and administrators answer these questions.

Prior articles have described key steps to improve access, including how to assign and adjust panel sizes,24 carve out same-day appointments,5 implement open-access scheduling,6 and schedule patients more efficiently.7 This article presents a simple dashboard that can help you track barriers to access and make data-driven decisions for practice improvement,8 and it applies the dashboard to three primary care practice scenarios.

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