Part-time clinicians may be less able to offer timely appointments to their patients than their full-time counterparts, according to a new study. Researchers examined the relationship between appointment backlog, panel size (the number of patients under a clinician's care), and clinician time in clinic. Among 114 primary care clinicians, less clinician time in clinic was independently associated with longer backlogs for appointments. Panel size, without adjusting for full-time equivalency and number of clinicians per site, had almost no correlation with access. These findings are particularly important in light of the increasing rate of clinicians who work part-time. The authors suggest that primary care practices consider, (1) establishing clinician teams to co-manage a patient panel and deliver more timely access to appointments, (2) establishing teams of clinicians and non-clinicians to reduce the need for traditional face-to-face clinician visits, and (3) reducing panel sizes which, the authors suggest, may be less feasible and perhaps less important than the presence of a clinician in the practice.
Panel Size, Clinician Time in Clinic, and Access to Appointments
David Margolius, MD, et al
MetroHealth System, Cleveland, Ohio