Same-day appointment access improvement at Student Health & Wellness

Nurse Line

During the spring semester, changes were made to better utilize existing Student Health & Wellness (SHW) appointments.  This improved access for students who needed same-day visits.

SHW has two family medicine “Provider of the day” (POD) healthcare providers each day. The PODs are tasked with seeing students with same-day, acute-care needs. Despite a detailed protocol for filling POD appointments, the POD schedule was often variable and unpredictable, leading to frustrated students and SHW staff.

SHW leadership and a team of providers collaborated to examine clinic efficiency and access to determine how to best improve same-day appointment access. They worked to adjust the SHW scheduling philosophy and came up with an actionable set of guidelines that allowed schedulers to fill the schedules more consistently and fully utilize the POD appointments.    

SHW staff measured the POD appointment utilization over 10 weeks of the spring semester, both before and after changes were made. The rate of POD appointment utilization increased by more than 50% after changes were implemented.  

There were also many qualitative benefits that resulted from this project:

  • Student satisfaction - students often provided immediate feedback to the schedulers that they were appreciative and grateful for the increased ease of access.   
  • Scheduling staff satisfaction - staff were able to directly help students by having scheduling roadblocks removed from their workflow.
  • Better utilization of registered nurse (RN) expertise - Nurseline nurses spent more time on calls with students who needed RN advice, instead of taking large numbers of transferred calls from schedulers.
  • Provider staff satisfaction - POD assignments were viewed as less hectic and rushed because students were more efficiently placed in their schedules.  With more time to plan, the providers were able to perform a more comprehensive review of a student’s history and current problem.

An unanticipated benefit was that overall appointment utilization increased by 10% in the clinic, in addition to the direct effect on the PODs. “As a result of this project, patient access increased and staff felt more empowered”, says Constance Wagner, the Nurse Manager at SHW.

Dr. Paul Natvig, the interim Medical Director at SHW, says, “It helped us finish the semester on a strong note, and ended up being a great morale booster for staff and increased satisfaction of students.”

Fall semesters are traditionally very busy in the SHW clinic.  The process will be carried forward, and staff will continue to measure and maintain improvements in patient access for students.

2018 Year In Review

This article is part of the 2018 Year in Review, which highlights some of the Division of Student Life's accomplishments from the previous academic year.

Go to Year in Review