What is the Patient Access Symposium®?

Our Mission

The mission of the Patient Access Symposium® is to provide a forum for large academic health systems to discuss solutions, disseminate ideas, and collaborate as a collective group to improve patient access in a complex ambulatory enterprise. To meet these goals in the unique setting inherent for children, the Children's Hospital Access Symposium was formed in 2016; it shares the same mission albeit delivering value in a pediatric setting.  Our content is driven by attention to three main pillars:

  • Capacity Management and Scheduling Optimization
  • Call Center Management
  • Ambulatory Clinic Operations

Representing institutions that see 300,000 to more than five million patients per annum, our members include representatives from the C-Suite, Ambulatory Services, Operations, Patient Experience, Finance, Call/Contact Centers, Capacity Management, Information Technology, Strategic Planning and Department-based Leadership. While representing a variety of positions, all members are passionately dedicated to performance improvement in patient access in the ambulatory enterprise. There are no sponsors or vendors associated with the Patient Access Symposium®.  Membership is by invitation only.

Our Background

Launched in 2011, the Patient Access Symposium® was the result of leaders in academic ambulatory care wanting to network with one another about the topic of access. During the process of performing research for “Mastering Patient Flow: 4th Edition,” the author – Elizabeth Woodcock – reached out to colleagues for their perspective on the topic of access. These early discussions became the source of the original Patient Access Report, compiled and written by Elizabeth in the fall of 2010, after several participants asked for copies of the interviews. In particular, Gerry Goodrich at Weill Cornell Physician Organization and Bill Gable at Duke University Private Diagnostic Clinic provided encouragement in developing a network of professionals interested in this topic. Gerry and Bill recommended that a meeting be held, and a small conference room was reserved on the campus of Duke University to hold the on-site discussion. After sending out the invitations to a dozen academic institutions, Elizabeth soon realized that the conference room would not be sufficient. Indeed, with only a few weeks’ notification, the first Patient Access Symposium® was moved to the Washington Duke Inn, adjacent to the campus of Duke University. The inaugural Patient Access Symposium® was held on May 19, 2011, drawing attendance from nearly 20 institutions. It was clear that participants appreciated the ability to be in a discussion-based forum, as Elizabeth “called upon” all attendees to contribute, basing the moderation of the event off of the interviews that had been conducted in the fall. Elizabeth recognized that the key to success was not only to create a series of speakers to lecture on relevant topics, but to truly understand the initiatives at each institution and encourage participants to share that information. Thus, it was – and remains today – a requirement to be interviewed by Elizabeth prior to attending the Symposium.

Brent Bizwell brought his energy and passion for access to the forum, with The Emory Clinic hosting the program in 2012. Recognizing the expertise and experience of Emory, Elizabeth asked Brent to host a pre-conference program to showcase the institution’s access strategies. The Atlanta-based program was held over two days – the first day (May 16, 2012) as a pre-conference, with the main forum taking place on the second day (May 17, 2012) with a fun social event in between to foster networking. After carefully reviewing the evaluations from both programs, Elizabeth solidified the model:  (1) keeping it small; (2) coordinating with a host academic institution to hold a pre-conference program for a subset of participants to glean knowledge from its access leaders; (3) interviewing and involving all participants, allowing attendees to learn from all institutions that are represented and (4) featuring “hot” topics in access for academic institutions, drawing upon the interviews conducted prior to the Symposium. Finally, Elizabeth determined that the Symposium would be held on a Thursday in May, with the day prior (Wednesday) serving as the pre-conference program to showcase the host institution.

After a successful program in Atlanta, Elizabeth began to schedule the initial round of interviews in October 2013, with 40 held over the ensuing six-month period. The interviews are typically one hour, and all are typed up in a consistent “case” format. The draft is sent to the interviewee; after revisions are made, the interview is added to the report. The Patient Access Report – a compilation of those cases – is made available, at no cost, to all participating institutions.

The Patient Access Symposium® benefited greatly from its host institution in 2013, Nashville-based Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The institution held a pre-conference program at its premier ambulatory site, One Hundred Oaks. In 2013, the inaugural Award of Excellence in Patient Access was presented to three institutions – Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation, Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the University of Utah Health Care. The results of the first benchmarking study were also presented.

2014 saw the conference move west, with our host institution, the University of Utah Health Care (UUHC). The Salt Lake City-based conference proved to be a smashing success, thanks to UUHC’s leadership team, led by David Webber. The institution held a pre-conference program at its award-winning medical office building, South Jordan Health Center, featuring all of the latest in “lean” design and operations. The second annual Award of Excellence in Patient Access was presented to Mayo Clinic, Stanford Hospital & Clinics and the University of Alabama Birmingham Health Care.

In 2015, we returned to the south, with our host institution, the University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB) Medicine. Organized by Andy Hare, who has been actively involved with the Patient Access Symposium® since “day one,” the workshops were held at UAB’s award-winning West Pavilion Conference Center in the heart of UAB’s campus in downtown Birmingham, followed by a showcase of UAB’s access initiatives. The Emory Clinic, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and Geisinger Medical Center took home the Awards of Excellence.

We assembled in the Pacific Northwest for the 2016 program, hosted by Seattle-based University of Washington (UW) Medicine. Following workshops dedicated to call center management, ambulatory operations and capacity management, the UW Medicine showcase highlighted the institution’s successful contact center, with the main symposium bringing value to attendees on the following day. Organized by Melissa Vasiliades and Debra Gussin, the event received rave reviews. The 2016 Awards of Excellence were presented to Johns Hopkins Medicine, Henry Ford Health System, and UW Medicine.

The Patient Access Symposium® traveled to Rochester, Minnesota in 2017, with our host, the Mayo Clinic. Mary Bany brought her expertise and passion for improvement to the conference, which featured new sessions on Predictive Analytics and an Executive Roundtable, as well as a half-day session dedicated to access-related solutions in a popular information system. The 2017 Awards of Excellence were presented to Indiana University Health Physicians, the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, and Rush University Medical Group.

In 2018, the Midwest was the focus of the Patient Access Symposium. The Patient Access Symposium is honored to have the support of IU Health and our incredible host coordinator, Shelby Smith, who brought unparalleled enthusiasm to the conference. Thanks to his efforts and the entire team at IU Health, the program was so popular that it was at capacity before the hotel deadline. The 2018 Awards of Excellence were presented to the University of Iowa Physicians, Duke Health, and UMass Memorial Healthcare.

2018 is a banner year for the group as we migrate from our current name to who we have truly become: the Patient Access Collaborative.

The Patient Access Symposium® has donated more than $4,000 to charities, a gesture to show appreciation to the speakers and hosts who have provided the energy and passion to fuel the group. The Patient Access Symposium® will continue in its current format, with Elizabeth working to improve the value each year. Please consider offering your input to her at 404.373.6195 or [email protected].

Save the Date: May 8-9, 2019 | Lexington, Kentucky | Hosted by UK HealthCare