Improving patient access to care
Physicians and staff at the UF College of Medicine strive for a “positive and seamless” patient experience
Dec. 7, 2022 — Every year, University of Florida College of Medicine health care professionals provide over 1 million appointments, treating patients from all 67 Florida counties, 50 states and internationally through the extensive UF Health Physicians network.
Making sure all patients have access to the health care and physician experts they need in a timely manner is a top priority. As part of an initiative under the patient care pillar of the College of Medicine’s strategic plan, faculty and staff are implementing a series of changes to streamline the scheduling process and enhance the patient experience across the board.
“Patients are already stressed when they are confronting health care concerns,” said Jamie B. Conti, M.D., FACC, chair of the department of medicine. “We want to make the patient experience positive and seamless. Many talented people are working hard to improve access. I’d like patients to feel that communication with us is easy and their experience is first-rate.”
According to Laura A. Gruber, M.B.A., M.H.S., the associate vice president of UF Health Physicians, one change already improving the efficiency of appointment scheduling is the implementation of decision trees that hardwire protocols for each medical specialty into the UF Health Physicians system and connect patients to the best doctor for their circumstances faster and without having to answer a plethora of questions over the phone. The patient texting mechanism will also be upgraded to allow for scheduling and rescheduling certain appointments without a phone call, she said, and human resources measures are being implemented to help recruit and retain staff.
These initiatives mean patients have to spend less time on the phone to get to the right doctor at the right time, Gruber said.
UF employees and a consultant have worked extensively to identify opportunities to improve patient access and evaluate changes in real time, said Gailine McCaslin, M.S., a senior project manager in the office of College of Medicine Dean Colleen Koch, M.D., M.S., M.B.A.
The goal is not a quick fix or Band-Aid, she said. Instead, this is an opportunity to raise the bar through a smooth and consistent upgrade that stakeholders can continue to work on and enhance.
Learn more about patient care initiatives at the College of Medicine online at med.ufl.edu/about/strategic-plan or in the video linked below.