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Defining Access: A Key Metric for Growth

Meeting to talk about access.Agreeing to terms is the first step in any business negotiation or philosophical debate, and it is often the hardest step. It requires a keen understanding of culture, deep knowledge of the language different teams speak, and a willingness to find common ground. That’s exactly what the Access Data Governance steering committee did when they set out to establish common definitions for everything from new patient visits to when or how a patient is bumped. It may sound like parsing words, but the effect of their work bears directly on the lives of hundreds of patients and physicians.

“The Medical Group is one of the main drivers right now of system think,” said Heidi Cozart, director of innovation and analytics. “And we drive it by creating a network of professional stakeholders to guide us and the tools we develop.” The Medical Group provides the people, ideas, and resources that engage and facilitate physician leaders in the administrative components of their roles. “We get up every day and think, how are we going to help our physicians today?” Cozart said.

Defining access was one of those early morning thoughts, and the first step was to get everyone talking the same language. David and Heidi worked with system leaders like doctors Bob Pendleton, Blake Hamilton, John Bohnsack, and the teams they lead, to begin the arduous process of defining terms. “There was initially a high level of frustration,” Webber said. That changed as key players moved from talking at each other to really hearing each other.

While data excites most of us—what data does is complex. By agreeing to definitions, the Access Data Governance group has been able to influence external stakeholders, like Vizient—an important body for establishing nationally-agreed-upon benchmark metrics—as well as internal stakeholders, like the senior vice president’s strategy team, the Community Physician Group, the Hospital’s decision support team, and many others. As an enabler, the Medical Group consults with and gathers many different perspectives, with physician needs and experiences in mind. “Access teams with data and analytical support are able to connect all the different variables to help inform our growth strategy,” said David Webber, senior director for the Medical Group.

“We’re never going to tell someone how to do it,” Cozart said. “We provide ideas and data to help providers do it in their own ways. We are tracing a path forward for system growth, so that more patients can connect with physicians and clinicians within U of U Health."