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NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue emphasizes patient-primary care physician continuity

Human connection is essential to compassionate quality medical care. The backbone of adult primary care is continuity between a patient and their primary care provider, which leads to improved efficiency, less waste, better quality outcomes and increased patient satisfaction. In 2017, NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue started an initiative to improve patient-primary care physician continuity by redesigning its scheduling templates and contact center scripting.

At the outset of the program, new scheduling templates were developed containing rolling, time-released appointment slots using open access principles. Concurrently, contact center scripts were adjusted to emphasize the scheduling of patients with their identified PCP, even if that meant asking a patient to delay a visit by a few days to a week, if clinically appropriate and agreed to by the patient. The hospital found that patients are willing to wait several additional days to see their continuity PCP rather than be seen by another PCP. Coordination between the contact center and clinic structure (i.e., scheduling templates) also proved important to achieve sustainable outcomes.

As a result, the hospital saw a marked improvement in patient and PCP continuity rates. Improving clinic scheduling efficiencies decreased “third next available” new patient appointments. There was also a decrease in third next available revisit patient appointments. Reduction of non-continuity PCP visits led to increased clinic efficiencies and increased PCP capacity for their continuity patients.

For more information, contact Andrew B. Wallach, MD, chief, ambulatory care, at (212) 562-1666 or andrew.wallach@nychhc.org or Laura Alves, administrative lead, ambulatory care, at (212) 562-5116 or laura.alves@nychhc.org.