CEO Message: August 2019

Dear Colleagues:

I hope you are enjoying your summer and have activities and fun trips planned with your family and friends.

In this month’s newsletter, I will focus on access, one of our most significant challenges for improving patient care. Across Northeast Medical Group, we do a great job at providing quality care for our patients. However, there remains an increasing demand across our regions from patients seeking our services. From the patients’ perspective, access means receiving services that meet their needs at the right time and place. Therefore, improving access to NEMG’s providers for both new and already established patients is critical to our future growth and patient satisfaction. 

While we continue to strategically increase our providers and services, the data that we have collected over the last 18 months show other opportunities to improve access in ways that are meaningful for new and existing patients. As examples, we struggle to fill appointments cancelled on short notice and our sites do not consistently connect patients who are new to NEMG with physicians who have the capacity to see them. 

Below is a snapshot of key Access Metrics for the third quarter of Fiscal Year 2019. The “Target” metrics are based on industry averages.

third quarter access metrics

Our third quarter metrics reveal no-show percentages that are lower than the target industry average of less than 5%. However, that also indicates an opportunity to improve the cancellation rate. In order to reduce the number of cancellations we will be making changes to the ways we remind patients about their appointments. In addition to traditional methods of patient outreach, such as phone calls and texts, we are going to focus on an expanded use of a MyChart feature called FastPass. Through the use of FastPass, patients have the ability to make and change their appointments online. FastPass also lets patients with appointments put themselves on electronic waiting lists. FastPass automatically sends a message to a wait-list patient offering an appointment that opens up due to a cancellation, which will improve our fill rate.

We are also utilizing cross-site scheduling to guide patients who are new to NEMG to clinicians with the most access. While this effort has provided success, it has also illustrated the difficulty of implementing a decentralized approach to new patients and driven work developing plans for unified resources to guide new patients seeking care with us.

Finally, we have organized a physician access taskforce to provide feedback on our data initiative and to help craft policies that support our access opportunities. This initiative has also highlighted the need to add new clinicians to NEMG. Over this fiscal year we have successfully recruited 47 clinicians, of which 23 are new positions in the community practices. Active clinician recruitment is ongoing across the group. We also welcomed 11 clinicians from Guilford Internal Medicine and Internal Medicine of Clinton.

We will continue to focus on developing a greater understanding of this data and developing interventions to improve access for our patients. We look forward to your participation, suggestions and comments as we continue to pursue our goal of improving the health of our patients.

Thank you all for your diligent work and dedication to providing every patient with the most exceptional experience possible.

Best wishes,

Prathibha Varkey, MBBS, MPH, MHPE, MBA
President and Chief Executive Officer
Northeast Medical Group