When Dr. Ted Long joined NYC Health & Hospitals about 18 months ago to lead ambulatory-care services, he heard the same refrain from frustrated physicians: The method used to schedule primary-care visits doesn’t work.
On average new patients waited 52 days for an appointment, which is significantly higher than the national average in large U.S. cities of 24 days. Furthermore, 30% of appointments weren’t with the patient’s primary-care doctor. “The system was failing, we had to fix it,” Long said.
The new approach, which involved changing scripts at the appointment call center and adopting new scheduling templates, has been tested at NYC Health & Hospitals/Bellevue’s adult primary-care clinic since August 2018 and is showing positive results. Average wait times for new patients plummeted to 14 days and 87.1% of patients now see their assigned primary-care provider, up from 69.9%. “Now our patients can be seen when they want to be seen, ensuring they have the best possible experience receiving care from us,” Long said.
Based on that success, NYC Health & Hospitals is rolling out the changes at its roughly 70 clinics. The adult primary-care clinic at Bellevue was the pilot site because it’s one of the system’s largest patient-care clinics with 30,000 patients seen every year.