For children with medical complexity and their families, navigating the different providers and appointments needed to treat their conditions can be challenging.
Appointments are typically scheduled based on hospital needs and provider schedules, which can result in multiple appointments scheduled over several days. Patients and caregivers may have to travel long distances, or miss work to attend appointments, which can result in additional stress, missed appointments and serious financial impact.
Driscoll Children's Hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas, decided to try a new approach to scheduling—focusing on patient needs and encouraging multiple same-day visits to reduce the number of days spent traveling to the hospital.
Transforming ambulatory care
A multidisciplinary team was formed to plan and measure improvements. The team's goal was to increase the percentage of patients with medical complexity who see two or more specialties on the same day. By scheduling multiple same-day appointments, patients and caregivers could lower the amount of time spent and cost associated with traveling to and from the hospital.
The project initiative team established several interventions designed to target both staff and caregivers. These interventions included:
- Creating an awareness campaign aimed at parents of children with medically complex conditions—including signage, a YouTube video, social media and other promotional materials.
- Launching an educational campaign for staff to reinforce the benefits of same-day visits and retrain medical office specialists on how to schedule them.
- Establishing incentives for medical office specialist staff and physicians to work with their patients to schedule same-day visits.
In the project's first year, the percentage of patients who had multiple same day appointments scheduled increased from 3.93% to 5.57% and continued to increase to 7.54% in the project’s second year. The project initiative team set increasing targets for each following fiscal year, with an end goal to maintain or improve a rate of 8% from August 31, 2023, through August 31, 2025.
As the Driscoll Children's Hospital team continues to pursue the initiative, next steps include:
- Continuing to target providers and clinics for increased participation in the initiative.
- Establishing a dedicated scheduler to serve as a central point of contact for caregivers of medically complex patients.
- Building an internal transportation team for patients who arrive by ambulance and need to travel to other clinics.
Watch this video to learn more about Driscoll Children's Hospital's same-day visit initiative.