By Todd Taylor
Delays in obtaining an appointment with a neurologist is a documented problem in the health care industry. In response, a University of Florida department of neurology team implemented a pilot program to improve access to neurological care, creating an “access clinic” featuring a novel staffing model.
In a new article in the journal Neurology: Clinical Practice, UF researchers reported that the access clinic yielded a dramatic decrease in “lead time,” or time from referral placement to appointment. Compared with traditional clinic visits, lead time was cut from an average of 142 days to 18 days for new patients, and from 64 days to 0 days for return visits.
Piloted from January 2017 to December 2019 at UF Health, the access clinic used a service rotation for neurology faculty, with an attending physician assigned to staff the clinic for one week at a time.
“The access clinic generated 40 subspecialty, multidisciplinary appointments for new patients per week and reduced appointment wait times,” said co-author A.J. Yarbrough, health care administrator for UF’s department of neurology.
The team also reported a decrease in readmission through the emergency department and an increase in patient satisfaction ratings.
“What’s most exciting is the possibility of improving patient access with available resources, by restructuring within an academically structured neurology department,” said co-author Katharina Busl, M.D., an associate professor of neurology and neurosurgery.
The UF team continues to use the access clinic concept and hopes that it will serve as a model for other academic health centers to improve access to neurological care.