J Clin Outcomes Manage
Improving access, quality of care, and patient satisfaction in a general internal medicine practice
Abstract Objective: To improve access, quality of care, and patient satisfaction in a general internal medicine practice through implementation of process improvements. Setting and participants: A 7-physician general internal medicine practice in Atlanta, GA, participating in the Institute for Healthcare Improvementís IMPACT Collaborative. Methods: The team used Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles to test a number of changes related to operational and customer service improvement, including improved phone message handling, informing patients in the examination rooms about delays, advanced access to manage appointment scheduling, and eliminating the loose filing backlog. In year 2, the team focused on clinical performance improvement in the area of diabetes. Results: The team increased the percentage of calls completed in less than 2 hours from 25% to 90%. Improved appointment access was achieved and volume of medical advice calls was reduced by 78%. Blood pressure control in diabetes patients increased from 50% to 80%. There was sustained improvement in patient satisfaction scores. Conclusion: A high-functioning team was successful in achieving improvements in operational and clinical performance in a general medicine practice. Communication, staff involvement, and active physician leadership and engagement were critical factors for success.
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