Transforming Health Care Scheduling and Access: Getting to Now

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) report Crossing the Quality Chasm identified six fundamental aims for health care—that it be safe, effective, patient-centered, efficient, equitable, and timely. Of these fundamental aims, timeliness is in some ways the least well studied and understood. How can timely care be ensured in various health care settings, and what are some of the reasons that care is sometimes not timely? The report presented here was developed by the IOM Committee on Optimizing Scheduling in Health Care to answer such questions. Although the study was prompted by attention to a high-profile crisis in a health center operated by the Veterans Health Administration of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA/VHA), and it was commissioned by the VA, the report focuses broadly on the experiences and opportunities throughout the nation related to the scheduling of and access to health care. The report reviews what is currently known and experienced with respect to health care access, scheduling, and wait times nationally, and offers preliminary observations about emerging best practices and promising strategies. The report concludes that opportunities exist to implement those practices and strategies (including virtually immediate engagement), and presents recommendations for needed approaches, policies, and leadership.

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