Background: Patient-centered access is a philosophy and a method that supports efforts to redesign health-care delivery systems to deliver higher quality care and to better meet the needs and preferences of patients. Since mid-2000, Group Health Cooperative has pursued an ensemble of strategic initiatives aimed at promoting patient-centered access, referred to as the Access Initiative. In support of this strategy, Group Health has also engaged in enterprise implementation of an electronic medical record and clinical information system that is integrated with their patient Web site, MyGroupHealth.
Objective: To elicit, describe, and characterize providers' perceptions of the effects of the Access Initiative, an information technology-enabled organizational redesign initiative intended to promote patient-centered access.
Design: Thematic analysis of semi-structured in-depth interviews.
Participants: Twenty-two care providers representing 14 primary care, medical, and surgical specialties at Group Health Cooperative, an integrated health-care system based in Seattle, Washington.
Findings: Analyses of the interview transcripts revealed nine emergent themes, five of which have particular relevance for health-care organizations pursuing patient-centered access: the Access Initiative improved patient satisfaction, improved the quality of encounter-based care, compromised providers' focus on population health, created additional work for providers, and decreased job satisfaction for primary care providers and some medical specialists.
Conclusions: Providers like that the Access Initiative is mostly good for their patients, but dislike the negative effects on their own quality of life - especially in primary care. These reforms may not be sustainable under current models of organization and financing.