Why improving patient access improved patient safety

Throughout our lives it would be rare to come across someone who hadn’t been on the end of an annoying inability to find a suitable time to visit the GP. Finding a time that is available for the GP and suits your busy life can be challenging. However, sometimes this inability to find a time becomes more than just annoying to turns to a dangerous delay.

What’s the problem?

Even at the best health delivery services there is unused appointment capacity and this unused time created a multifaceted inefficiency. The access isn’t just an issue of getting an appointment but can sometimes be the inability to see someone with the required level of expertise to deal with your issue. Misdirected referrals are all too common leading to delays in care and this comes about as a result of the failure to see the professional with the required expertise.

We simply need to find ways to better find the required expertise in times of need. Far too often we end up seeing the wrong professional who incorrectly refers us to another professional who is unable to help. The compounding delays can lead to serious patient safety issues and the blame often falls on the first line of the chain. However, the blame should not be on the professional first seen but rather the system that sent the patient there in the first place. We need find ways to improve patient access.

How do we fix it?

The initiatives employed to improve access should not just focus on being able to see a professional in a timely manner but should extend beyond this to education and ease of information access. The public should be educated in medical awareness and care teams should have a detailed understanding of a patient’s general wellbeing being able to communicate to them their best course of action through the passing on of information.

This is not saying that we currently have created an environment where medical professionals do not care but it is the referral processes and labourious scheduling that inadvertently creates a complete mixture of information from different directions that is almost impossible to interpret.

The processes within our medical system appear to support the chaos that is planted within them rather than making it easier for people to navigate through. It is more than simply overcoming a nuisance to not being able to see your GP today but timeliness to care for patients. Just a single days delay could have a significant impact on the health of an individual impacting recovery time and long term wellbeing. Communication and eradicating scheduling inefficiencies that at times lead to malpractice and failure to communicate the correct information to patients must be improved.

Patient safety and wellbeing is the core goal of the medical system yet it currently is letting people down in the simplest of ways. Providing accessibility and the required expertise is necessary to ensure patient safety at all times.

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