As you’ve read in this blog, in the local media, and heard from your managers, UMass Memorial Health Care is working through some very challenging financial issues. We are dealing with these issues by reducing our expenses, seeking new revenue sources, and most importantly, redesigning the way we care for patients so that we can increase quality and reduce costs.
This is all part of our long-term strategy to deliver greater value to our patients and make this the best place for you to give care and our patients to receive care.
This image outlines our current strategy. You can click on it to see a larger version.
The first bullet point on this chart is about improving access: “Offer same or next day access through 855-UMass-MD (855-862-7763) and electronic referral systems (http://www.umassmemorialhealthcare.org/umass-memorial-medical-center/patients-visitors/patient-resources/make-appointment).
This is one of the most important elements of our strategic plan, as it not only improves the patient experience, but also brings new revenue to the health care system and reduces the need for painful expense reductions. About 70% of our specialists are now offering same or next day access, which is great; unfortunately, there are other services where we currently have long wait times for patients to get in to see providers.
Long wait times lead to unhappy patients who may look to find providers elsewhere, and we cannot afford to be turning patients away. Our goal is for same or next day access to all our providers, and if we can’t deliver on that goal, we will continue to struggle as an organization. As I recently stated at a UMass Medical School executive council meeting, nobody cares if you’re delivering cutting-edge innovative care if they can’t pick up the phone or go online and get an appointment with you.
One area that has struggled with access is our Dermatology Clinic. They have a limited number of doctors that are in high demand. The dermatology team is also greatly challenged by geography. Right now they have to provide services on three different floors because we haven’t been able to find them enough space in one location. We’re working on this problem, but in the meantime, they have instituted an idea board and regular huddles to try and engage everyone in improving their processes and enhancing patient and staff satisfaction.
One of their ideas was to open up the clinic for evening hours This is the kind of suggestion that will eventually help guide us toward reaching our goal of same or next day access for all of the services we provide. Although the dermatology access is still a problem, they are committed to using every one of the caregivers in the clinic to fix the problem, which gives me great confidence that they will succeed.
If someone you know is doing a great job at improving access for our patients, please send me a note so I can visit their area.
Thanks for all you do to take great care of our patients and one another,