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Health Care Has to Change the Status Quo to Improve Access

Updated: Feb 14, 2022

By Jerrod Ullah, CEO & Founder

I recently read a report stating that 22% of Americans who have a regular doctor could not receive health care service from them when they were needing it. This means that 72 million people, right here in the U.S., could not receive the care they were seeking.

Why is this still happening? Is it staffing shortage? Physician burnout? Are patients not going to the right place when seeking care?

One thing we can all agree on is that access to health care must change. Because right now, access is difficult. In this 5-part series, I will dive into each of the barriers we are facing and challenge all of us to change.

Yes, access to health care is too often, too difficult. It’s multi-faceted, involving not only staff head count and correct resources to serve patient populations, but it also depends on meeting the needs of the customer (the patient) even before they seek out services.

As illustrated in the International Journal for Equity in Health diagram below, we need to account for the 5 A’s in access on the supply side: affordability, accessibility, availability, accommodation and acceptability. On the demand side, we have to account for the customer’s 5 A’s: the ability to pay, ability to make, ability to obtain, ability to engage, and the ability to seek.

This diagram provides a lot of perspective and makes it clear that access is, indeed, a difficult problem to solve. For proper access, providers must be solving for both the supply side of the problem and the demand side of the problem.

Let’s begin by looking at Accessibility. Accessibility is the relationship between the location of supply and the location of the patient. Meaning, are the services being provided in close proximity to the patient or not. On the demand side, there are also conditions that need to be considered. For example, a patient may not be able to schedule or keep an appointment due to transportation issues.

So how do we solve for these type challenges?

For proximity barriers, providers need a nice, big digital front door offering easy-to-schedule e-visits and Telehealth visits. For resource restraints and addressing patients’ SDOH challenges (like transportation), providers need a solution for load balancing available resources and identifying patient roadblocks.

When practices can offer up the right resource (provider, social worker, educator, community resource, etc.), at the right time, there will then be a lot less than 72 million people missing out on the care they are seeking.

HealthTalk A.I. was founded to solve these issues in healthcare. To learn how we are helping our customers address their Accessibility challenges, I invite you to explore our primary care page and watch this webinar.

Stay tuned for my next blog, where I’ll address another one of the 5 A’s of Access.

Interested in learning more? Contact us to discuss your patient engagement and access priorities!

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