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Associations Between Primary Care Providers and Staff-Reported Access Management Challenges and Patient Perceptions of Access.
Rose DE, Leung LB, McClean M, Nelson KM, Curtis I, Yano EM, Rubenstein LV, Stockdale SE. Associations Between Primary Care Providers and Staff-Reported Access Management Challenges and Patient Perceptions of Access. Journal of general internal medicine. 2023 Aug 2.
Optimizing patients' access to primary care is critically important but challenging. In a national survey, we asked primary care providers and staff to rate specific care processes as access management challenges and assessed whether clinics with more of these challenges had worse access outcomes.
Study design: Cross sectional. National Primary Care Personnel Survey (NPCPS) (2018) participants included 6210 primary care providers (PCPs) and staff in 813 clinics (19% response rate) and 158,645 of their patients. We linked PCP and staff ratings of access management challenges to veterans' perceived access from 2018-2019 Survey of Healthcare Experiences of Patients-Patient Centered Medical Home (SHEP-PCMH) surveys (35.6% response rate).
The NPCPS queried PCPs and staff about access management challenges. The mean overall access challenge score was 28.6, SD 6.0. The SHEP-PCMH access composite asked how often veterans reported always obtaining urgent appointments same/next day; routine appointments when desired and having medical questions answered during office hours.
We aggregated PCP and staff responses to clinic level, and use multi-level, multivariate logistic regressions to assess associations between clinic-level access management challenges and patient perceptions of access. We controlled for veteran-, facility-, and area-level characteristics.
Veterans at clinics with more access management challenges ( > 75 percentile) had a lower likelihood of reporting always receiving timely urgent care appointments (AOR: .86, 95% CI: .78-.95); always receiving routine appointments (AOR: .74, 95% CI: .67-.82); and always reporting same- or next-day answers to telephone questions (AOR: .79, 95% CI: .70-.90) compared to veterans receiving care at clinics with fewer ( < 25 percentile) challenges.
Findings show a strong relationship between higher levels of access management challenges and worse patient perceptions of access. Addressing access management challenges, particularly those associated with call center communication, may be an actionable path for improved patient experience.