Background and objectives: The implementation of advanced access appointment systems has improved continuity of care, patient and physician satisfaction, physician productivity, and average physician panel size in private practice and group-model HMO settings. This study's purpose was to document the patient care benefits, practice management benefits, and educational outcomes from the controlled implementation of an advanced access appointment system in a residency family medicine center.
Methods: Two faculty-resident teams were created. One team adopted the advanced access system while the other team continued using a traditional access system. Outcome measures included length of time needed to obtain an appointment (days to third available appointment), continuity (percentage of visits with the patient's designated provider), no-show rates, productivity, visits lost to outside providers, panel sizes, and patient satisfaction. Outcomes were measured at baseline and quarterly for 1 year after initial implementation.
Results: After implementation, the "days to third available appointment" for the advanced access group was 5 days, compared to 21 days for the traditional access group. A significant improvement in continuity (ie, a match between the primary care physician and patient) for the advanced access team was found. Comparison of no-show rates between the advanced access and traditional access teams revealed significant between-subjects effect, but controlling for within-subject variation using repeated measures ANOVA eliminated this effect. Advanced access residents increased their continuity above 50% while increasing provider satisfaction with office practice and scope of practice.
Conclusions: Faculty and residents can successfully use advanced access. Advanced access can enhance residency education by reducing appointment delays and significantly increasing the patient-primary care physician match.