Today’s health consumers face a variety of access issues, ranging from lengthy appointment wait times to inconvenient provider hours. These challenges may grow worse due to looming provider shortages, fragmentation of care, and a dearth of a solution that ties together the multitude of new access points that are coming available.
The call to address these challenges falls to health systems, whose objectives are heavily aligned with improved access: their patients stand to benefit greatly, and they increasingly recognize that the path to sustainability rests on winning consumers when they enter the healthcare system. Thus, this confluence of access issues offers systems an opportunity to rethink and redefine their approach to access in a way that better meets patients’ needs and serves their broader objectives.
Here, Oliver Wyman’s Parie Garg and Victor Siclovan size up the magnitude and urgency of consumers’ access issues, and then outline how provider organizations are adapting their analytical and operational capabilities to earn the right to resolve consumers’ needs. Parie will be discussing these issues, and more, at the American Hospital Association Leadership Summit taking place in San Diego this week.
Well-documented are the studies pointing to a significant provider shortage in the United States. A 2017 study commissioned by the AAMC forecasts a shortfall of between 40,800 and 104,900 physicians by 2030, of which 7,300 to 43,100 are primary care physicians. This shortfall, driven by demographic factors, will exacerbate widespread challenges already prevalent in obtaining timely and appropriate healthcare.
These challenges are most acutely observed in ballooning wait times. Case in point: the VA has come under intense scrutiny for its lengthy wait times, and earlier this year launched a website publishing appointment wait times at all of its facilities in an effort to help patients find more timely care.
But veterans are not alone in experiencing delays in getting access to care: a recent study sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and conducted by Oliver Wyman and the Altarum Institute found similar challenges among vulnerable populations, including Medicaid beneficiaries, low-income individuals, the uninsured, Spanish speakers and family caregivers. For these health consumers, better access to care is a top priority. Specific needs include:
- More providers who accept their insurance
- Easy online appointment booking
- Expanded doctors’ hours
- More clinics nearby