There's a Better Way

Delivered on 10/23/17 in Dallas, TX


Good morning, everyone. As some of you know, my name is Dalmo, and I’m a consultant here. My team and I have collaborated with the hospital for the past few months to tackle one of the biggest issues this medical center is facing. What is this issue? Let me tell you the story of Rita.

Rita’s primary care doctor diagnosed her with small cell carcinoma, a type of lung cancer that spreads very fast. Would everyone agree that as a medical center, we all want to do the best we can to help people like Rita?

After doing some research online, she realized that one of the best oncologists in the area, Dr. Jones, practices here at our hospital. She called to make an appointment, and here’s what she was told: Dr. Jones is booked out for the next three weeks. So we give her an appointment, but that wait can be dangerous. Our hospital’s motto is: the future of medicine, today. But in this case, it’s more like the future of medicine, three weeks from now. And that’s a problem.

The name of our problem is ACCESS. Timely access to healthcare. Without a quick appointment, Rita is forced to either wait while her disease progresses or seek out a doctor in a different hospital with better access. The ACCESS problem we have is losing us money. It’s hurting our reputation in the community. It makes us look bad to referring providers. But most importantly, it affects patients like Rita.

To most of you, Rita’s story is familiar because it happens a lot around here. ACCESS is a complicated issue because it involves a lot of moving parts, but I’m here to tell you that yes we can improve access in your clinic. We’ve done it before, and we’re gonna do it again if you help me.

Imagine this example. We know Dr. Jones is booked out for 3 weeks. Of course—she’s world renowned, she’s the best oncologist in the area, and she even does cancer research half of her time. But Dr. Jones has a physician assistant that’s not working to her full potential. Right now, this assistant follows Dr. Jones around and writes her notes for every patient.

But what if the assistant could see patients independently? That assistant would take on the older, established, less complicated patients over here. And that would free up a lot more time on Dr. Jones’s schedule to see new patients like Rita. Doesn’t that sound like a better way to do things??

Here’s another opportunity to take action. Even though Dr. Jones is booked out, Dr. Lopez and Dr. Kumar have openings this week! Now, they’re a little younger than Dr. Jones, less experienced, but they’re just as good at providing patient care. In fact, since they graduated recently, they’re much more comfortable prescribing cutting-edge therapies. But when Rita called, that scheduler on the phone had no idea that Dr. Jones had colleagues who do the same work!

What if we train the schedulers to suggest similar doctors who have availability? Rita would have had the option to be seen sooner. That’s a better way to handle these calls. This is a quick win that makes a big difference.

These are just a couple of examples of how you and I can make changes to improve access. But it doesn’t stop there! I see some wheels turning here—I bet you have ideas for how to improve access in your clinic too! After all, every clinic is unique and faces unique challenges.

So here’s what I want from you, all of you. Over the next week, I’m going to have one-on-one interviews with you and your staff so I can hear your ideas. We’re going to come up with an action plan together of 4 to 5 things we can change this month to improve access. And then I’m gonna need you to carry this same enthusiasm to make those changes happen. I want you to be an advocate for this project because I can’t succeed without you. I’m counting on you to fix our access problem. Together we can do it for patients like Rita, for patients across our medical center. Thank you.